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Alcala accepts Usec Delima’s resignation By Ronnel W. Domingo Philippine Daily Inquirer 9:03 pm | Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala. FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines—Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala’s “right-hand man,” Undersecretary Dante S. Delima, has resigned amid an organizational upheaval following the appointment of former senator Francis Pangilinan to oversee four key agencies of the department. The Department of Agriculture’s spokesperson, Undersecretary Emerson U. Palad, said in an interview that Alcala announced at the department’s executive committee meeting last Tuesday that he had accepted Delima’s resignation. Delima joined the department at the same time as Alcala, shortly after the elections of 2010. He started as director of the department’s high-value crops development program. By the time he left the department, Delima was undersecretary for operations as well as head of the national rice program, mainly responsible for the government’s efforts to attain selfsufficiency in rice production. Palad himself takes over Delima’s responsibilities regarding operations. “Secretary Alcala assigned the rice program to Assistant Secretary Edilberto M. de Luna,” Palad said. He said Delima’s absence was not expected to cause the department to hobble, especially with the distribution of the resigned official’s responsibilities. Asked why Delima resigned, Palad said: “I think he wanted to return to the private sector, although he told me that I could call him if I needed help.”

According to members of the DA staff with access to Delima, he would rather not talk to the media at the moment. Anticipating the question, an insider said Delima’s resignation was not related to Pangilinan’s appointment as presidential adviser on food security and agriculture modernization. Sources said Delima had been intending to tender his resignation for the past several months. One source said Delima had talked about having revised his resignation letter a number of times. Also, insiders talked about Delima having had a falling out with his “close in” staff. Another source said his resignation would take effect on June 1, and that he was already on terminal leave. Delima had been working with Alcala even when the latter was still a lawmaker representing Quezon province’s second district. The Iligan City-born resident of Davao City was a trainer on natural or organic farming practices, an expertise that he developed as a farmer himself.

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What can Pangilinan do? SEARCH FOR TRUTH By Ernesto M. Maceda (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 8, 2014 12:00am The appointment of Senator Francis Pangilinan as Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization, with special instructions to clean up the National Food Authority (NFA), National Irrigation Administration (NIA), the Philippine Coconut Authority (PHILCOA), and the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA), is a slap on the face of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala. He should now resign. He should not wait for the Ombudsman to charge and suspend him. When President Aquino instructed Pangilinan to clean up the four Department of Agriculture (DA) agencies, it signifies that Secretary Alcala has failed to do his job. It clearly means that the President has made a decision that Alcala is not competent. Pangilinan should investigate the latest NFA importation of 800,000 metric tons (MT) from Vietnam, which was bought at $440/MT when the current Thailand market price is only $340/MT. Former NFA administrator Romeo David questioned why NFA was in a hurry to buy the rice. He also questioned why what was ordered was 15% broken rice. Taking off the election campaign period, from October 2015 to May 2016, Pangilinan has only 16 months to implement whatever new programs or investigations he will start. I suggest he forms four investigating teams under an undersecretary to take care of the four graftridden agencies assigned to him. He should investigate why a Vietnamese firm, Vietnam Southern Food Corp. or Vinafood 2, wins most NFA bidding processes. Water shortage Ten years ago, Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) bidded a project to get 300,000 metric tons (MT) of water from Laguna de Bay. The winning bidder was rejected. The project was discontinued. It should be resurrected. Manila Water and Maynilad should increase its conversion of Laguna de Bay water to potable water. This perennial water shortage is a continuing failure of the Aquino administration.

Just do it Justice Secretary Leila de Lima admitted that a Senate committee can compel her to submit the Napoles list to the Senate. Senate President Franklin Drilon has also confirmed that De Lima can be compelled by the Senate to submit the said list. So what is holding Drilon from ordering Senator T.G. Guingona to issue a subpoena duces tecum for the Napoles list to be submitted to the Blue Ribbon Committee? Drilon has denied he is on the list. It is, therefore, in his interest to have it subpoenaed so as to confirm his denial of having any dealings with Janet Lim-Napoles. Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano and four other senators have asked for the list to be made public. Five senators are enough to convince Senator Guingona to reopen the Napoles hearing. Invite her and Justice Secretary De Lima so she can testify on her disclosures to De Lima. A Napoles testimony can confirm that the list has not been sanitized. Napoles can also testify how much commission she paid Ruby Tuason. Napoles can now reveal what she knows about the Malampaya Fund scam; and release another list of people who received the P900-million fund. Another broadcaster killed Richard Najid, 38, a radio station manager and broadcast journalist of FM station Power Mix DXNN in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi, was shot dead by three unidentified gunmen. The National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) said that Najid is the 26th journalist killed under the Aquino administration. Najid is the second journalist killed in Bongao. National Press Club president Joel Sy Egco has expressed dismay over the killing. He said the murder of Najid is a “humiliating sequel to President Aquino’s pathetic gaffe” during the Obama-Aquino press conference. Sy Egco accused Aquino of a lack of real concern; and plain disregard for the deadly plight of Philippine journalists. NUJP chairperson Rowena Paraan said 80% of journalist killings involved local police and politicians. SWS survey The latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed that 53% of Filipinos voted themselves as poor — that means 11.5 million families. The survey also showed that they considered President Aquino as having more concerns for the middle class than the poor. Part of the explanation for the high poverty incidence is the failure of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to hire more workers due to corruption and diversion of DPWH funds.

Another scam The House of Representatives is set to investigate the P10.2-billion Public Works Fund released within six months before the 2010 elections. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) should also look into this — no funds or projects can be released within 45 days before an election. The House is set to ask Congressman Rolando Andaya to testify before the good government and public accountability committee to explain the P10.2-billion DPWH release. Andaya was the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) secretary at that time. Tidbits. Manolo Roxas, 60, a public market administrator of Tanauan City, was gunned down by two motorcycle-riding gunmen. Ramon Ang and Felipe Gozon have confirmed ongoing talks for Ang’s interest to buy into GMA-7. Manny Pangilinan has given up. Abigail Pendulas, wife of Aman Futures pyramid scam suspect, was arrested. Manila Electric Company (Meralco) charged an additional P0.89 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for April. A higher rate is expected for May. The Abu Sayyaf kidnapped Yang Zai Lin, 34, a Chinese fish farm manager in Sabah; and the two Germans, Dr. Stefan Viktor Okonek and Henrite Dielen in Palawan. The New People’s Army (NPA) in Mabini, Compostela Valley is still holding some hostages. Thirty-nine civilian hostages were already released by the rebels. Authorities are still negotiating for the safe release of the remaining hostages. A bomb explosion at Lebak, Sultan Kudarat Municipal Building wounded Mayor Dionisio Besana.‐can‐pangilinan‐do        

US backs Phl bid for sp’l restriction on rice imports By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 8, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The United States has not asked for additional concessions in exchange for its support to the Philippines’ bid for an extension of its special restriction on rice imports, asking instead to be allowed continued market access for its traditional export products. “Their existing concessions would just be continued,” said Agriculture Undersecretary for Policy Segfredo Serrano. He said there would just be minor additions like, turkey meat. The United States currently exports to the Philippines meat products, wheat, soybean meal, and dairy products among others. The Philippines is still awaiting the consensus of three other countries for the continued imposition of high duties on rice imports until 2017. Still negotiating with the Philippines are Thailand, Australia, and Canada. Serrano said negotiations with Thailand have been smooth sailing but the neighboring Southeast Asian nation cannot make commitments yet because of a still ongoing political crisis. “So we are praying that there will be peace and stability in Thailand so the government would be able to make a decision,” said Serrano. Negotiations with Canada and Australia, he said, have been within “reasonable” parameters. “Our negotiations with them have been reasonable. I cannot disclose what concessions they are seeking, but we have told them not to ask for concessions to sensitive commodities and to limit requests for concessions within the agriculture sector,” he said.

The country’s bid or the extension of its quantitative restriction (QRs) on rice would be taken up during the special meeting of the World Trade Organization Committee on Trade in Goods in June. Manila wants to impose until 2017 a 40-percent tariff on rice imported within the 350,000 metric ton (MT) minimum access volume (MAV) and a duty of 50 percent for volume imported outside the MAV. This would enable the government to strengthen the domestic rice industry before free trade is enforced within Southeast Asia by 2015.

Political maverick turns food czar BREAKTHROUGH By Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 8, 2014 - 12:00am In the past year, the discussions on the agriculture sector in the Philippines have been dominated by scandals, abuses of the Napoles NGOs, allegations of corruption in the Department of Agriculture, and rice smuggling. Hopefully, the new Presidential Assistant assigned to the agriculture sector — former Senator Kiko Pangilinan — will immediately change the dialogue. I hope he does not fall into the trap of sounding like the Blue Ribbon committee for the food and agriculture sector whose sole assignment is to “clean” the agencies and look for crooks to prosecute. If his goal is to capture media attention and public approval, a “crusading” message will be the easiest path. I would suggest to the new Cabinet Secretary that he avoid this temptation, and focus on discussing how the agriculture sector can be the engine of growth on the scale that will be necessary to transform the Philippine economy, leading to poverty alleviation. Only a dynamic, rapidly growing agriculture can generate the sustained rural employment and food surpluses necessary to propel this transformation. I was not surprised at his appointment to the agriculture sector. But I confess that I had always thought he would end up as the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA). He was Senate chair of the committee on agriculture. But more than that, after the end of his Senate term in 2013, all his activities seemed like a preparation for the DA Secretary position. He spent lots of time actually running a farm. I also noticed that during media interviews, he would hold it in his farm, and the topic was always on food and farming. It really seemed like he was preparing for the DA position. I do not understand the logic of appointing Pangilinan to head only a part of the Department of Agriculture. The justification is that this is a very large department. But so are the Departments of Education, Transportation and Communication, among others. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala was quoted as saying: “Two heads are better than one.” In any basic management course, this would be considered as inadvisable. Two heads will lead to confusion in accountability and authority. The reality is that the agriculture sector has not met expectations. Rice sufficiency, as a goal, has not been met. Rice smuggling has continued to plague the nation. Irrigation has continued to lag behind, leading to lower incomes for small farmers. The present Agriculture Secretary has also become involved in too many controversies which makes his effectiveness questionable.

Perhaps, it is time for a change. If Kiko Pangilinan has the trust and confidence of P-Noy, then he should be appointed to head the Department of Agriculture and be held accountable for the transformation of this vital sector of the economy. It is said that Pangilinan has political plans in 2016. That is even better because that will serve as an incentive for him to make the necessary policy changes and to implement them as fast as possible. Kiko Pangilinan has always been a political maverick. Even though his wife, Sharon Cuneta, is a major figure in show business, he joined the movement to remove Erap Estrada, a major showbiz personality. He ran for the Senate in 2001 basically as an independent, although he joined the coalition ticket. In 2007, he refused to join the two major party senatorial slates and ran as an independent. He became one of the very few, in Philippine political history, to win a national position as an independent. For a while, he was considered as a possible candidate for the presidential or vice presidential position in 2010. But he actively supported the candidacy of PNoy in 2010. There are several reasons why growth in the agriculture sector is vital to the economic prosperity of the Philippines. First, the raising of the living standards of the rural and basically agricultural population will lead to a massive increase in domestic demand for non-agricultural goods and services. This will provide a tremendous and growing market for non-agricultural enterprises. Second, agricultural growth fosters the development of the agro-industrial sector. Secretary Pangilinan should include this sector as part of his development plan. There are three types of firms in this sector. The first are those that supply key inputs to the agriculture sector like farm machinery, fertilizer, seeds, tools and construction materials. Then there are those firms that process agriculture outputs like food processing, fibers and beverages like coffee. Finally, there are those that complete agriculture infrastructure like warehouses, delivery equipment and food markets or terminals. A prosperous agriculture sector will also generate more savings in the rural areas which will lead to more capital to finance investments in the non-agriculture sector. At the same time, banks will have more potential borrowers as farmers and fishermen become more acceptable borrowers from regular financial services firms. Agriculture growth generates foreign exchange earnings through increased exports and reduced imports. This is one of the key success factors leading to industrialization. Agriculture growth also transforms the rural areas by providing more diversified sources of income for rural households and increases livelihood opportunities. This will reduce the massive influx of the rural population to the major cities of the country, especially Metro Manila. Hopefully P-Noy has found a food and agriculture czar in Kiko Pangilinan who will be instrumental in helping us attain the status of an economy where every Filipino has the opportunity to live a life of human dignity. Email:

DA chief Alcala urged to resign By Dennis Carcamo ( | Updated May 7, 2014 - 11:50am

Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala MANILA, Philippines - A private lawyer who filed two plunder cases against Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala on Wednesday welcomed the appointment of former senator Francis Pangilinan to the Cabinet as the country's food security czar. "Kiko Pangilinan’s track record in public service remains untainted by any hint of corruption but now he must demonstrate his resolve in actually busting – and not merely talking against -- graft in the 4 DA agencies which he has been mandated by no less than the President to 'clean up'," lawyer Argee Guevarra said in a statement. Last year, Guevarra filed plunder charges against Alcala and National Food Administration chief Orlando Calayag for the alleged overpriced importation of some 200,000 metric tons of rice from Vietnam under a government-to-government transaction scheme, where an estimated P450 million in alleged kickbacks changed hands in a hotel in Singapore. Early this year and on the basis of a Commission on Audit report, Guevarra also filed another plunder case against Alcala and National Agribusiness Corp. President Honesto Baniqued for their purported involvement in the anomalous disbursement of NABCOR funds totaling to P10.4 billion. Guevarra claimed these funds were misused and diverted from farmer-beneficiaries and instead were spent for the 2013 elections and the bulk lining up the pockets of corrupt agriculture officials. He said that President Benigno Aquino III's management style could be described as merely "barkadahan" when he did not sack Alcala who has been implicated in rice smuggling. "In not dismissing Alcala from the cabinet, PNoy’s management mindset is governed more by his sense of barkadahan than his sense of duty as President of the Republic, thus running roughshod over his empty avowals that his bosses are the Filipino people," Guevarra said. Guevarra reiterated his call for Alcala to step down.

"With the appointment of Kiko to a post similar to his and considering the President’s obvious clipping of his (Alcala) powers and tacit acknowledgement of Alcala’s failure to achieve rice self-sufficiency and involvement in corruption, he is in law and in fact, 'constructively dismissed.' "He should thus spare this administration from further embarrassment -- and further plunder cases before the Ombudsman," Guevarra added.

Thirst for milk KIWI PERSPECTIVE By Reuben Levermore (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 8, 2014 12:00am Today I will join dairy farmers from all around the Philippines at the national Dairy Congress in General Santos City. This will be my third annual Congress, a chance to connect with the local dairy industry and to underline New Zealand’s support. Although agricultural production in the Philippines is more often associated with rice and tropical fruits, including the bananas stocked in New Zealand supermarkets, dairy farms are found across much of the country. Most dairy farmers in the Philippines have very small herds. As of December 2013, according to statistics from the National Dairy Authority, there were a little over 21,600 dairy cows in the Philippines (excluding carabao, of which there are nearly 2.5 million). Many Filipinos already know that there are more sheep (around 30 million) than people (4.2 million) in New Zealand. There are also more cows (6.2 million). One of the trends in recent years in New Zealand agriculture has been for farmers to convert from sheep to more profitable dairy farming. Just as world food demand is increasing, so too is demand for dairy products in particular. Economic growth in the developing world is enabling more and more people to afford to buy nutritious food, of which dairy is a fine example. With a small dairy production base, the Philippines is reliant on imports to meet its dairy consumption needs. Accordingly, the Philippines is a key market for New Zealand dairy exports. The New Zealand dairy industry has calculated that the world will require an additional 100 billion litres of milk by 2020 – that’s around 40,000 Olympic size swimming pools full of milk. To put this in perspective, production from NDA-assisted dairy farms last year accounted for a total of 14.42 million liters of milk, or around six Olympic swimming pools. And although New Zealand accounts for the greatest share of world milk trade (but only the eighth largest producer overall), it is estimated that New Zealand will be able to account for only around 5% of the increase required by 2020. Much of that demand will need to be met in the developing world. For this reason, we are seeing more and more initiatives to boost dairy farming internationally, including here in the Philippines. The New Zealand Government, for its part, has committed to helping the Philippine dairy industry develop, in partnership with the National Dairy Authority and local dairy industry partners. The Philippines-New Zealand dairy project is providing support to a select number of farms in two regions where dairy is already established: Northern Mindanao and CALABARZON. The idea is to then share more widely the key lessons. Given the size of the Philippine dairy herd, a project of this scale — $NZ 5.3 million, or P200 million, of support over five years — should significantly raise milk production in these regions if it is well executed.

As I have written before, there is no doubt that the Philippines has great agricultural potential, and in dairy there is much scope for farmers to further increase their milk production. Fresh milk produced by the local industry is in demand, be that for schoolchildren in the provinces, latté coffee at Starbucks or fresh butter at Manila’s top hotels. The kiwi perspective is that demand for protein is going to continue to soar, and that’s something that farmers the world over — including this week in General Santos City — can celebrate with a milk toast. *



(Reuben Levermore is the Ambassador of New Zealand.)

Pangilinan told to rid agro sector of corruption by Genalyn Kabiling  May 7, 2014  

Manila, Philippines — A massive housecleaning in four former attached agencies of the Department of Agriculture (DA) will be among the priorities of newly appointed Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan as President Aquino tries to get rid of rampant corruption and smuggling in the agriculture sector. Pangilinan, upon the orders of President Aquino, vowed to “clean up” the four agencies placed under his supervision in a bid to strengthen rural development and boost the country’s food security.

NEW CABINET SECRETARY – Newly appointed Presidential Adviser on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization former senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan gestures during a press conference in Malacañang yesterday right after he took his oath of office administered by President Aquino. (Richard V. Viñas) Following Pangilinan’s appointment, President Aquino transferred supervision of the National Food Authority (NFA), National Irrigation Administration (NIA), Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), and the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) from the DA to the Office of the President. In transferring NFA, NIA, PCA, and FPA to his office, President Aquino explained that there is a need to enhance and coordinate the efforts of these four agencies in fulfilling their mandates. The transfer of the four DA agencies and placing them under the supervision of Pangilinan virtually clipped the power of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala. Pangilinan, who was assigned to exercise oversight function over these four agencies, assured there will be no major revamp in these offices, adding he intends to work with the existing bureaucracy.

“The President said that I am here to help clean up these agencies. This involves addressing the problems of corruption and smuggling,” Pangilinan said in a press conference after taking his oath before President Aquino in Malacañang. “Food security can only be done when you secure your farmers and your fisherfolk so the overall program is to address that, including corruption because nandoon na nga ang pondo para sa ating mga magsasaka, nalulustay pa,” he added. Pangilinan assured that his campaign against corruption and smuggling in the agriculture sector, which has a two-year timeline, would not spare anyone. “You have to look at the evidence and make people account for their acts,” he said. He also issued a stern warning to smugglers of rice and other commodities against undermining the interest of local farmers. “If they want to continue with their ways, they will surely have a problem… we will not allow them to dictate the rice trade in the country,” he added in Filipino. Asked if his appointment meant Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala failed to eliminate corruption and smuggling, Pangilinan said: “I wouldn’t say he failed to clean up. The agriculture and fisheries sector is very wide so he needs support and that’s why we’re here.” He added that the President did not mention anything about Alcala and his alleged involvement in some anomalies when he was appointed to the new Cabinet post. Pangilinan explained that he accepted the government post since he felt “duty-bound” to help fight poverty by focusing on programs that will uplift the agriculture and fisheries sector. He said his primary goal is to raise the quality of life of the country’s farmers and fishermen. Pangilinan said he intends to clean up the NFA’s processes on rice importation, find solutions to the high cost of palay, and address the debts of the state-owned food agency. He said he would also look into measures to facilitate better domestic production of rice by bolstering support for farmers. “The marching orders are clear: To clean it up so we will do what we can as best we can to help in that respect,” he said.


Politics as business Philippine Daily Inquirer  1:51 am | Thursday, May 8th, 2014  

The latest controversy over the possible misuse of government funds, this time involving the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund or Acef, offers yet more proof that politics may be the country’s most lucrative business. Whether Edgardo Angara, then the senator in charge of the Senate agriculture committee in the 14th Congress, or Abraham Mitra, Angara’s counterpart in the House of Representatives at that time, broke the law in facilitating some P410 million in Acef grants to their respective provinces, the underlying reality is stark: They were engaged in a form of political entrepreneurship. Through their positions, they were able to tap a billion-peso fund in ways that directly benefited their bailiwicks. So, some politicians may ask, what is wrong with that? Aren’t lawmakers dutybound, under the principle of agency, to work for their constituents’ interests? Both Angara and Mitra have denied any wrongdoing. “The three projects that the P300-million Acef disbursement funded belie any and all insinuations that I personally benefited from the funds,” Angara said in a statement. He itemized the three projects in Aurora province thus: P200 million as initial budget for the 120-kilometer Baler-Casiguran Road, and P100 million as funding for the Aurora Mariculture Park and a Coconut-Based Products Complex, all in 2008. Palawan, which Mitra used to represent, used Acef monies to construct a P10.2-million abaca farm in 2008 and to allocate P100 million for the eradication of mango pests in 2009. Mitra said that though he and Angara had coauthored the extension of the Acef Law, they were not responsible for implementing it. “Our roles were just ministerial.”

We’ve heard this excuse, or rationalization, before. It is exactly the reasoning offered by the three senators implicated in the plunder of the Priority Development Assistance Fund. (Angara has also been implicated in the so-called pork barrel scam, but because the total amount he was supposed to have redirected is less than P50 million, he has been accused of graft, not plunder.) The most powerful politicians in the country have nothing to do with the siphoning off of PDAF allocations to fake organizations or fake beneficiaries because their role, in Sen. Jinggoy Estrada’s words, was “clearly recommendatory.” Implementation, Estrada has argued, “is best left to the motivated and the willing.” To be fair to both Mitra and Angara, there is as yet no showing that their use of Acef funds is of the same nature or scope of the pork barrel scam. But the possibility of misuse exists. The Acef was set up in 1996 to prepare farmers and fishermen affected by trade liberalization policies, by

funding such necessities as irrigation projects and farm-to-market roads. Does the BalerCasiguran Road qualify as one such? Between 2011 and 2012, the Department of Agriculture suspended the Acef for largely failing to reach its intended beneficiaries: farmers and fishermen. Unless, of course, the farmers and fishermen are the lucky constituents of influential politicians with their hands on the levers of power. How else explain the privileged status of Aurora and Palawan in 2008 and 2009? Were the agricultural communities in these provinces more motivated, more willing, than others? The simpler answer tells us it was precisely their positions that allowed Angara and Mitra to steer the P410-million largesse in their bailiwicks’ direction. (The Aurora Pacific Economic and Freeport Zone is another, controversial, example of Angara’s remarkable powers of persuasion.) The myth of “ministerial” responsibilities, then, is exactly that: a myth. Compound this political reality with bureaucratic inertia, and we have a system where political advantage becomes economic capital. Bohol Rep. Arthur Yap, then the agriculture secretary, told the Inquirer he had done all he could to keep Acef on a professional footing. “This is why we insisted that the companies apply with the Landbank, which we assumed did its work of assessing the borrower’s capacity to pay.” On such blithe assumptions are local political fortunes made, and national development undermined. We are reminded of that infamous utterance of Senate President Jose Avelino, said on Jan. 15, 1949, during a harangue aimed at President Elpidio Quirino: “What are we in power for?” Read more:‐as‐business‐3#ixzz315doJueQ   Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook 

PH sugar still assured of US quota, sans tariff – SRA May 7, 2014  

Negros Occidental (PIA) – The Philippines is assured of zero tariff on sugar exports to the United States even as the country remains the US’s third largest quota holder, Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) head, Ma. Regina B. Martin told media in a recent forum here organized by the Peace and Equity Foundation on the Effects, Opportunities and Challenges Presented by the ASEAN Economic Community 2015 at the Sugar Industry Foundation Incorporated in Talisay City, this province. Such assurances were made during negotiations discussed by representatives of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala during President Barrack Obama’s state visit to the country last week, Martin told media in the forum held at the Sugar Industry Foundation Inc. office in Talisay City, this province. The country’s sugar quota in the US annually is 136,000 metric tons and so far, Marin said, “we have already shipped out almost half of total volume which is about 60,000 metric tons.” Meanwhile, Martin said, almost all sugar mills are ending the milling season within this month but “everybody is working on the estimated target production of 2.3 million metric tons.”

Moro farmers, settlers get common irrigation facility in Cotabato town Category: Agri‐Commodities   07 May 2014   Written by Manuel T. Cayon   DAVAO CITY—The Government repaired a small irrigation system in Kabacan, North Cotabato, but the  impact appeared to be far‐reaching, including the issue of interreligious dialogue.  The  Department  of  Agriculture  (DA)  repaired  the  irrigation  system  in  in  Barangay  Pisan  in  Kabacan,  North Cotabato, under the World Bank‐funded Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP), of which  the beneficiary was the association of both Moro farmers and settlers periodically separated by religious  divide.  The  area  is  a  mixed  town  of  Maguindanao  Moro  Muslims  and  mostly  Visayan‐speaking  settlers,  who  formed the Pisan Chrislam Communal Irrigation Association (PCIA).  Production was hampered by the inefficient communal irrigation, and the MRDP spent P8.4 million to  rehabilitate it and construct 2.90‐kilometer rectangular‐lined canal with 10 units of canal structures, said  DA Regional Director Amalia Jayag‐Datukan.  PCIA President Arnel Sumawang said more than 500 of its member are farmers who till about a hundred  hectares of rice farms.  North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Mendoza called on farmers in Barangay Pisan “to help maintain and take  good care of the water facility.”  The provincial government contributed the 10‐percent counterpart of the project, she said.  Some  P98.33  million  worth  of  DA‐MRDP  projects  had  been  implemented  in  different  areas  in  North  Cotabato in recent months, she added.  Meanwhile, the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) in Region 12 urged coconut farmers to enroll in the  agency’s Participatory Coconut Planting Project under the PCA’s National Coconut Productivity Program  and avail themselves of financial reward for planting new coconut trees.  Teotimo  Jalos,  PCA  regional  manager,  said  farmers  enrolled  would  have  free  choice  of  seedlings  “in  addition to the incentive of P30 that they receive for every coconut tree that they plant provided that  they are enrolled in the program.” 

Jalos said farmers may enroll in the program “by becoming a member of a coconut farmer’s organization  or  they  can  also  coordinate  with  the  PCA’s  coconut  development  officers  for  guidance  and  thorough  information.”  The PCA also provided a special program for indigenous peoples under its Indigenous People Outreach  Program  (IPOP) where beneficiaries “are given free seedlings to start coconut farming.” There are 3,792  beneficiaries already enrolled in IPOP, he said.  The PCA has also offered a Salt Fertilization Project “to provide coconut farmers with 2 kilos of salt for  free to be used to fertilize planted coconuts, increasing then and keeping the farmers’ yields healthy.”  “For 2014, PCA has allocated P17,135,000 in salt to be used for 13,181 hectares of coconut‐planted land  in the region,” Jalos said.‐commodities/31740‐moro‐farmers‐ settlers‐get‐common‐irrigation‐facility‐in‐cotabato‐town                           

Activists dare Pangilinan to fully give boats to ‘Yolanda’ survivors Category: Agri‐Commodities   07 May 2014   Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga   MILITANTS challenged on Wednesday newly appointed Cabinet member Francis Pangilinan to complete  the distribution of 100,000 fishing boats to poor fishermen affected by Supertyphoon Yolanda last year.  Salvador  France,  vice  chairman  of  the  Pambansang  Lakas  ng  Kilusang  Mamamalakaya  ng  Pilipinas  (Pamalakaya), said Pangilinan should be able to find ways to do so.  Pamalakaya issued its challenge a day after President Aquino  appointed Pangilinan as his assistant for  Food  Security  and  Agricultural  Modernization.  Pangilinan,  who  was  given  authority  over  four  major  agencies under the Department of Agriculture (DA), was quoted as saying he vows to “clean the DA.”  So  far,  France  said  the  Bureau  of  Fisheries  and  Aquatic  Resources  had  only  distributed  some  12,000  fishing boats to survivors of Yolanda. That, he said, is a far cry from what is expected from the agency.  “We challenge [Pangilinan] to come up with [a] decisive program of action that would address this highly  needed  and‐urgent  concern  of  small  fishermen.  Our  estimate  sees  the  need  to  distribute  at  least  100,000 fishing boats to revive fish production and livelihood affected by…Yolanda.”  According to France, that number of fishing boats is 88‐percent short of target. He added that the DA  also only managed to give 4,000 fishing nets and put up 200 payaos amounting to P40 million, France  said.  Among those that needed fishing boats, fishing nets and payaos are fishermen in the provinces of Leyte,  Samar,  Northern  Cebu,  Northern  Iloilo,  Aklan,  Capiz,  Antique,  Guimaras,  Northern  Negros,  Palawan,  Masbate, Mindoro Oriental and Mindoro Occidental.‐commodities/31744‐activists‐dare‐ pangilinan‐to‐fully‐give‐boats‐to‐yolanda‐survivors     

Agriculture expert to head Jica in PHL Category: Agri‐Commodities   07 May 2014   Written by Cai U. Ordinario   THE Japanese government has recently appointed an agriculture expert to head the Japan International  Cooperation Agency (Jica) office in the Philippines.  The Japanese government named Noriaki Niwa as its new chief representative in the Philippines. Niwa  will replace Takahiro Sasaki, who served as Jica Philippines  chief  representative from October 2011 to  March 2014.  “Niwa  will  bring  his  expertise  in  agricultural  economics  and  rural  development  in  intensifying  Japan’s  development assistance in the Philippines,” Jica said.  As former Jica chief representative in Nepal in 2007, he helped steer state‐building strategies for Nepal’s  economic  growth  and  development  through  Jica’s  collaboration  with  policy‐makers,  government  officials and the private sector in Nepal, in addition to a number of cooperation activities.  A  Tokyo  University  graduate,  Niwa  has  served  as  assistant  resident  representative  at  Jica  Philippine  Office in 1987.    Recently,  Jica  extended  P1  billion  worth  of  grants  to  cover  water  supply  and  coastal‐management  projects in the Philippines.  The  National  Economic  and  Development  Authority  (Neda)  said  the  grant  covered  two  projects,  the  P501‐million  Improvement  of  Water  Supply  System  in  Metropolitan  Cebu  Water  District  (MCWD)  and  the P500‐million Enhancement of Coastal Communications Systems.  In terms of official development assistance (ODA), data obtained from the Neda showed that the  Jica  was the Philippines’s biggest source of ODA loans in 2012.  ODA loans extended by Jica amounted to $3.261 billion covering 21 loans. This accounted for 37 percent  of the country’s total loans portfolio.  In terms of ODA grants, Jicaextended a total grant amount of $95.83 million to cover six projects. This  accounted for 3.36 percent of the country’s total ODA grants portfolio. 

The Manila‐based  multilateral  development  bank  said  that  as  of  the  end  of  September  2013,  Japan’s  outstanding loans to Asia reached $391.8 billion.  In terms of foreign direct investments, the Asian Development Bank said that in 2012 alone, Japanese  firms invested $235.6 billion in the region.‐commodities/31743‐agriculture‐ expert‐to‐head‐jica‐in‐phl                                  

Lawmaker to Kiko: Keep hands off coco‐ levy fund Category: Nation   07 May 2014   Written by Jovee Marie N. De la Cruz   Former senator and newly designated Palace Adviser for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization  Francis  Pangilinan  should  keep  his  hands  off  in  the  multi‐billion‐peso  coco‐levy  fund,  a  party‐list  lawmaker said on Wednesday.  Rep. Fernando Hicap of Anakpawis party‐list said the coco‐levy fund is owned by small coconut farmers  and no one is allowed to control the funds.  “The coco levy must be returned to small coconut farmers,” said Hicap who authored House Bill 1327, or  the Genuine Small Coconut Farmers’ Fund, that states that the coco‐levy funds shall be used exclusively  for the benefit of genuine small coconut farmers.  The proposed measure is in response to small coconut farmers demand for the “cash distribution of the  recovered funds.”               The measure states that the coco levy, now estimated to have ballooned between P100 billion to 150  billion, “shall be apportioned to all coconut farmers without discrimination in the form of cash and other  social  benefits  including  but  not  limited  to  pension  benefits;  medical  and  hospitalization  benefits;  maternity benefits; and educational assistance including scholarships.”  The  bill  also  seeks  “to  finance  socio‐economic  projects  initiated  by  small  coconut  farmers  and  their  organizations and/or cooperatives that shall primarily focus on: livelihood programs and projects meant  to provide additional incomes to small coconut farmers; small‐ and medium‐scale coconut enterprises,  marketing and trading mechanisms, inventions and innovations of machineries and equipment for the  development of high‐quality coconut and improvement of local coconut production; and, programs that  would provide loan facilities for small coconut farmers.”                The current administration is inclined to use the multibillion‐peso coco‐levy funds for the rehabilitation  efforts of coconut farmlands affected by Supertyphoon Yolanda.  Earlier, the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) received an initial rehabilitation fund of P2.8 billion from  Malacañang  to  aid  coco  farmers  in  Leyte  and  Samar  provinces,  Panay  Island,  northern  Cebu  and  Bantayan Island that were hit by Yolanda. 

“Coco farmers need direct assistance and other social benefits to help them recover,” Hicap said.  He added six months after Yolanda, small coconut farmers have yet to receive direct assistance from the  national government.  Hicap added that Yolanda destroyed more than 33 million or 10 percent of the country’s coconut trees,  leaving millions of coconut farmers with no source of income and livelihood and dependent on local and  foreign aid.  Meanwhile, Pangilinan, who recently appointed by Malacañang to a Cabinet position, will serve as the  Aquino  administration’s  agriculture  and  food  security  czar.  He  will  oversee  agencies  under  the  Department  of  Agriculture  National  Food  Authority,  National  Irrigation  Authority,  Philippine  Coconut  Authority and Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority where allegations of corruption have been raised against  Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala.  In a media interview, Pangilinan said that his priorities will include the cleaning of agriculture agencies  linked to corruption, fast‐tracking of agri projects and addressing problems of the coconut industry and  the use of the multibillion‐peso coco‐levy fund.‐lawmaker‐to‐kiko‐keep‐hands‐ off‐coco‐levy‐fund                    

Just kick him out • • • • •

Written by  Charlie V. Manalo   Thursday, 08 May 2014 00:00   font size    Print   2 comments  


he other day, Malacañang’s resident bum extended another political

accommodation to staunch ally, Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, appointing him as Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization. Quite an accommodation for a dear friend who has been out of power for almost a year now, as his new post had been especially created just for him, and goes with the rank of a Cabinet Secretary. But what happens now to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala who is supposedly at the helm of an agency tasked with ensuring food security and the modernization of agriculture? Kiko’s entry to Noynoy Aquino’s Cabinet results in a redundancy of responsibilities and work used to be handled by Alcala’s department which would mean additional funding for the hiring of Kiko’s staff and one that would be only duplicating the work of the Department of Agriculture. Another wastage of government resources and people’s money. So, why has Noynoy created an alter ego office of the DA? Obviously, he has been so disappointed by the performance of Alcala who has promised him on the country’s rice sufficiency before 2013 ends. Instead of leading the country to rice self-sufficiency, Alcala, as his critics claim, has further dragged the country into the quagmire of rice importation dependency, allegedly making hundreds of millions of pesos from overpriced importation in the process. Additionally, Alcala is being accused of conniving with bogus NGOs in the plunder of hundreds of millions of agricultural funds. According to sources, Alcala is the chief implementer of the pork barrel scam as it is he who reportedly identifies the projects funded by the lawmakers priority development assistance fund and their beneficiaries, the NGOs reportedly maintained by Janet Lim-Napoles and Benhur Luy. In fact, in April 2011, a special allotment release order or Saro was issued by the Department of Budget and Management corresponding to P5 million of former Deputy Speaker Noli Fuentebella’s PDAF, for a project to be implemented by Alcala’s department through a Napoles NGO, the Kaupdanan para sa Mangunguma Foundation Inc. According to Fuentebella, the Saro was released without his knowlege and without the DBM and the DA bothering to inform him. Anyway, after the Saro expired in Dec. 31, 2012, a notice of cash allocation amounting to 15 percent of the said Saro or P750,000 was released by the DBM to the KMFI through the DA on Jan. 13, 2013, again without the knowledge of Fuentebella.

When Fuentebella got hold of the information, he immediately called the attention of the DA, who promised him the department would investigate the issue, but not without asking him what he intends to do with the remaining 85 percent! The gall! So, why is the Senate blue ribbon committee headed by Sen. TG Guingona not investigating this? Actually, Alcala is not new in the matter of allegations regarding the PDAFs. When he was still a representative representing the second district of Quezon, he was alleged to have channeled part of his pork to an NGO based in Pangasinan. Isn’t it part of the supposed pork anomaly? Despite all these, Noynoy just won’t lift a finger to have Alcala probed or even fired. Instead of reprimanding him, suspending him, ousting him, prosecuting him or whatever, Noynoy just went on to appoint Kiko to a redundant position, whom militant groups claim, would only serve as more of a political deodorizer in the corruption scandal stricken agriculture department. Why can’t Noynoy just kick Alcala out, in the way he treats his perceived political foes? Yesterday, I was trying to contact my sources in Congress to follow up a lead in a story I am developing. However, my sources said they just cannot talk right now as they are too busy preparing, with anticipation, the issuance of the warrants of arrest against Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla and Juan Ponce Enrile today, Thursday, by the Sandiganbayan. Wow! If that is true, Noynoy’s emissary have been working overtime. Just yesterday, my publisher, Ninez Cacho-Olivares came out with an exclusive story stating that a Palace emissary supposedly met with both Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales and Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tan with orders from a Malacañang high official to rush the cases against the three opposition leaders in the Senate. Accordingly, the message from the Palace high official, relayed by his emissary, had an additional order for Cabotaje-Tan to make sure that as soon as the Ombudsman elevates the cases before the court, she is to ensure whichever division justice in the Sandiganbayan who will win the case through a raffle, to immediately issue arrest warrants against the three and ensure their detention. See how fast this administration works if it concerns its political enemies? No different from the electoral sabotage case filed against former President, now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, with no less than Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes leaving his hospital sickbed just to preside over the poll body’s en banc session to have the resolution approving the filing of charges against the former president signed. Filed in the morning, the case was raffled before noon and the arrest warrant issued before the end of the day’s working hours. In December 2012, Congress needed just four hours to read, review and debate over the impeachment complaint against former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona with the Articles of Impeachment transmitted to the Senate on the very same day. This administration can really work wonders. And this time, it does this again, against its formidable 2016 opponents.

Going awry • • • • •

Written by  Ninez Cacho‐Olivares   Thursday, 08 May 2014 00:00   font size    Print   6 comments  


ho does Leila de Lima think she is fooling when she says she

cannot and will not sanitize the affidavit and the Janet Lim-Napoles tell-all list. She even challenged the media to ask Napoles if the list that will eventually be made public has been sanitized. The fact alone that she has not made the list public more than two weeks after she had a meeting with Napoles and her constant claim that her team of National Bbureau of Investigation agents, led by her undersecretary are still validating and clarifying details is more than proof that the list is being sanitized. She certainly does not expect Napoles to admit that the list has been sanitized, neither would Leila admit it, because of the deal she is still trying to forge with Leila, who has been pressing her to focus on just the three opposition senators, eliminate from the list Butch Abad, Franklin Drilon and Proceso Alcala, along with other allies whom Noynoy still needs for his purpose, such as their votes for many of his controversial bills, along with the Budget bill, which is an election bill that he and the LP will use to cheat for hus presidential bet and senators. There is absolutely no logial reason for Leila and her “sanitation team” to even validate any and all details, since her affidavit and list can be easily judged, whether they can stand as strong evidence before the court or not at all. For Leila to even state that details from Napoles are still being clarified by her sanitation team shows that there is a deal afoot with Napoles as Leila wants her to be a witness against the three opposition senators, which is why Leila had orders for her team to ensure that the main list will highlight the three opposition senators and of course strike out from the list the Noynoy biggies. Why else would de Lima keep the list and affidavit of Napoles secret if not because the deal with Napoles still has not been signed, sealed and delivered, with the details made up according to what Noynoy and Leila and his Palace aides want? She never bothered with the excuse of her not wanting to ruin the reputations of the lawmakers in the list when it came to the three senators, even responding to the media’s question on whether the three opposition were listed with her effusive “Oh, yes, absolutely” reply. Neither did she show any reticence in coming up with a trial by publicity against the three senators as she allowed her whistle-blowers, led by Benhur Luy, full rein in giving media interviews on the three. And even in the Senate, she was all cooperative, giving more and more details, even claiming that Ruby Tuason’s evidence was a “slam dunk.” Yet today, she pleads for the Senate not to subpoena her and the Napoles affidavit and list,

vowing to make this public at the right time. And the right time is obviously after the deal will have been struck and guarantees given Napoles. After all, why should Napoles suddenly want to “tell all” if she doesn’t get anything in return? Without a deal struck with Noynoy and Leila, she will rot in jail, which she does not want, and it is only Noynoy, through De Lima, who can grant Napoles what she wants which is temporary freedom and reduced charges at this point of the dealing game, or at the least, bail for her. That’s pretty logical, unlike De Lima’s constant claim that she and her team are constantly validating the Napoles list. The fact that she immediately went to Malacañang after meeting with Noynoy to report to him what had transpired between her and Napoles during that meeting, along with her claim that Napoles had already signed an affidavit, plus the fact that Noynoy had on the same day, called Butch Abad and Alcala to Malacañang, telling them they are in the Napoles list, and with De Lima now claiming that the list will not be sanitized clearly points to the sanitation process being done. This is the reason Leila sanitation team is almost in daily meeting with Napoles, to convince her to sign an affidavit prepared by the Palace, with the allies of Noynoy out of the list. But Noynoy, Leila and Napoles have a big problem should the sanitized list be made public. They have lost all credibility due to the long delay and the many lies they have spawned all throughout the persecution of Noynoy’s political foes and the protection of his allies. Besides, there is also the original affidavit and list of Napoles, even if unsigned, with Ping Lacson, who may not release it either, since he is part of the administration. But surely that unsigned affidavit and list given to Lacson must have been kept with someone else, who would definitely release this, sooner or later. To paraphrase a well-known : The best laid persecutorial plans of Noy and his Liberal Party have gone awry.


‘Agripreneur’ urges farmers to venture into business Category: Agri‐Commodities   07 May 2014   Written by Alladin S. Diega / Correspondent   A  LOCAL  businessman  engaged  in  agribusiness  is  encouraging  farmers  to  become  entrepreneurs  and  become “agripreneurs,” instead of remaining simple farmers.  “Sixty  percent  of  Filipinos  are  into  agriculture  and  fishery  sectors  yet  they  are  still  considered  as  the  poorest  sector.  Farmers  should  adopt  the  three  development  models  such  as  the  supply  side,  donor‐ driven and market‐driven models to create a sustainable agripreneurship farm,” Ramon D. Peñalosa Jr.,  considered an established agripreneur, said during a three‐day seminar held recently in a private farm in  Negros Occidental.  Tapped by the Department of Agriculture (DA) Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division to talk on  integrated farming system, organic agriculture, farm tourism and agripreneurship, Peñalosa encouraged  the farmers in Negros to maximize farm productivity by cutting cost of farming inputs through organic  farming.  Peñalosa has farming businesses in Victorias City, Manapla, Sagay City and Don Salvador Benedicto, all in  this Central Philippines province.  On a 0.9‐hectare integrated farm at Victorias City, Peñalosa produces and markets an average of 60 tons  of  assorted  certified  organic  fruits,  vegetables,  herbs  and  rice,  including  probiotic‐based  poultry  and  livestock and organic fertilizers.  “Integrated farming system is a synergy among crops and livestock in order to produce a self‐contained  zero‐waste  ecosystems,  which  is  characterized  by  vertical  and  horizontal  integration,”  Peñalosa  told  farmers.  According  to  Peñalosa,  the  farmers  can  cut  on  production  cost  by  reusing  organic  matters  available  within the farm such as livestock manure, vermi, and power plants, among others.  He  also  said  degenerative  diseases  caused  by  free  radicals  from  commercial  fertilizers,  pesticides  and  livestock  feeds  can  be  avoided  through  organic  farming,  adding  on  the  importance  of  creating  a  sustainable habitat for crops and livestock, particularly in developing farm tourism. 

“Degenerative diseases  caused  by  free  radicals  from  commercial  fertilizers,  pesticides  and  livestock  feeds can be avoided through organic farming,” he added.  Peñalosa told participants to consider beauty, strength and functions in setting up an integrated farm  to  address economic, environment, health and even political concerns.  Agritechture,  a  fusion  of  architecture  and  agriculture,  was  also  discussed  in  the  seminar  as  a  building  that grows food.  “It  is  important  to  create  a  sustainable  habitat  for  crops  and  livestock,  most  especially  in  developing  farm tourism,” said Peñalosa, who challenged the farmers become agripreneurs who could put up farm  tourism and not just a farm.  To prosper farming business, “an agripreneur should go into business opportunities under the concept  of farm to market, farm to kitchen and farm to plate.”  (With Marvin Benaning)‐commodities/31742‐agripreneur‐ urges‐farmers‐to‐venture‐into‐business                   

Pangilinan urged: Speed up delivery of boats to displaced fishers By DJ Yap Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:34 pm | Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines—One of the first things Francis Pangilinan, the newly appointed presidential assistant for food security and agricultural modernization, must do is to distribute 100,000 fishing boats to fisher folk who lost theirs to super typhoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) last November, a fishermen’s group said Wednesday. The militant fisher folk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) challenged the former senator to accomplish that task as soon as possible for the fishermen to recover from the devastation of the storm. In a press statement, Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France said the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources had so far distributed only 12,000 fishing boats to fishermen who survived Yolanda. He said providing the fishing boats would do much to jump-start the economic rehabilitation of fishing areas affected by “Yolanda”, which claimed thousands of lives in Eastern Visayas. “We challenge the newly appointed presidential assistant for food security and agricultural modernization to come up with decisive program of action that would address this highly needed and urgent concern of small fishermen,” France said. “Our estimate sees the need to distribute at least 100,000 fishing boats to revive fish production and livelihood affected by Super typhoon ‘Yolanda’,” he said. “But the national government so far has only accomplished the distribution of 12,000 fishing boats, which is 88 percent or 88,000 short of the practical target.”

France also noted that aside from 12,000 fishing boats, the agriculture department has managed so far to provide only 4,000 fishing nets and put up 200 payaos, or buoys, costing a total of P40 million. Pamalakaya said the 100,000 fishing boats should be distributed for free and should cover the provinces of Leyte, Samar, Northern Cebu, Northern Iloilo, Aklan, Capiz, Antique, Guimaras, Northern Negros, Palawan, Masbate, Mindoro Oriental and Mindoro Occidental.

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DA to intensify cloud seeding by Ellalyn De Vera  May 7, 2014  

In preparation for the adverse impact of the El Niño phenomenon, the Department of Agriculture (DA) will be intensifying its cloud seeding operations to save crops and other products from damage. To date, the DA-Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) has already completed 28 cloud-seeding trips in drought-affected municipalities in Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya and other areas in Cagayan Valley. In Isabela, these sorties prevented damage on some 4,155 hectares of corn farms, of which 3,490 hectares are in reproductive stage and 665 hectares in the vegetative, DA Secretary Proceso Alcala said. Each flying hour costs around P43,000, including expense on salt being dispersed above clouds suitable for seeding. Aside from cloud seeding sorties, DA has also started to distribute shallow tube wells and drought-tolerant crop varieties to help farmers in areas most affected by the drought. For rice, it includes PSB Rc14 popularly known as “Rio Grande,” a rainfed lowland rice variety which matures in 116 days with a maximum yield of 6.1 tons per hectare. Meanwhile, farmers who do not intend to plant rice are being advised to consider droughtresistant crops, such as sweet pepper, ubi, alugbati, mungbean, cassava, and sweet potato. Several water-saving technologies are also available, Alcala said. For instance, in rice, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PRRI) promotes controlled irrigation or alternate wetting and drying (AWD) technology. It also minimizes greenhouse gas emissions in paddy fields. PhilRice has also been teaching farmers nationwide to adopt Palayamanan Plus, a highly integrated and diversified system of farming where rice is grown with other crops and livestock, among others.With diversified sources of food and income, farmers are able to enhance their resilience to adverse weather conditions such as a prolonged drought, he added. DA-National Irrigation Administration has been in touch with irrigators associations nationwide to ensure efficient water allocation and use in irrigation systems. DA Undersecretary for Field Operations Service (FOS) Emerson Palad said a newly formed task force on El Niño will meet on Wednesday to firm up strategies meant to cushion the impact of the impending extended dry spell on farming and fishery sectors.

After heavy rains and floods, dry spell plagues Mindanao By Germelina Lacorte, Orlando Dinoy, Richel Umel and Bobby Lagsa Inquirer Mindanao 2:33 pm | Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

FILE PHOTO DAVAO CITY, Philippines—The current dry spell, which has pushed water tables deeper underground and is drying up lakes, is not just causing hydropower plants to generate less electricity but is also threatening Mindanao’s food production. The worsening weather condition has prompted officials to ask farmers to prepare for the worst by planting drought-resistant root crops, and the public to conserve water in their households. Armando Ansingco, chair of the Southern Mindanao Regional Agriculture and Fishery Council (RAFC), said crop yields this year are estimated to decrease by 20 percent in the region compared to last year, as the absence of rain has already affected some areas. He said some farms in well-irrigated areas might barely feel the effects of the dry spell but “rainfed areas will suffer if the dry spell continues.” Remelyn Recoter, regional director of the Department of Agriculture in Southern Mindanao, said 80 percent of the 53,000 hectares of riceland in Southern Mindanao is irrigated, although irrigation canals have dried up in some places. But even if only the 20 percent that depends on rain is affected by the dry spell, that would still have a considerable impact on food production. Ansingco said the best way to mitigate the effects of the drought is for farmers to quickly switch to drought-resistant root crops. “Let us brace for the worst and prepare ourselves,” he said, “We can do it because we’ve been here before.”

Recoter said agriculture officials have considered cloud seeding in some areas, but this has to be thoroughly studied because it can cause damage to crops vulnerable to too much rain such as bananas. “We have to evaluate thoroughly if we consider that option because some crops like watermelon and banana, which thrive well in summer, would not benefit, and might even be destroyed, by cloud seeding,” she said. Southern Mindanao produces more bananas than rice. It contributes only 2 to 2.5 percent of the country’s rice production, Recoter said. In the case of the rice-producing town of Magsaysay in Davao del Sur, officials said the low water level in irrigation systems there had delayed the planting season. It should have started during the first week of this month. Exequiel Elentorio, president of the Badagoy Irrigators Association, said at least 40 percent of their 1,680 members have not planted yet as irrigation ditches have dried up due to the dry spell. For the remaining 60 percent, whose farms are located near irrigation systems still with water, Elentorio said they have had to ration water to be able to plant. The experience of Magsaysay farmers was also being experienced by their counterparts in Maguindanao. Mosa Saligan, a farmer in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao, said they could not replant for lack of rain. ”There are some areas which are irrigated but most in the upland are without irrigation. We rely on rains that we have not experienced for a long time,” said another farmer, Kali Usman of Upi, Maguindanao. Makmod Mending, ARMM regional secretary of the agriculture and fishery, said his office has sent teams to monitor the condition of farms in Maguindanao so appropriate action could be taken. He said cloud seeding was one of the options being considered. Sources at the National Power Corp. said the cloud seeding was also being considered to induce rains and boost the water level at Lake Lanao and at Pulangi River. These two water systems run hydropower plants that generate about 60 percent of Mindanao’s power needs. The lack of water at the Pulangi Hydro Electric Power Plant in Bukidnon reduced the plant’s capacity by 60 megawatts, according to Rudy Brioso, vice president for Mindanao generation of the Napocor.

Brioso said the same thing was happening at the Agus power plants in Lanao, which draw water from Lake Lanao. He said the water elevation at Lake Lanao was still above the critical level of 698.15 meters. “The hydropower plants (in Lake Lanao) can still operate at as low as 699.15 meters but if (water level) goes down beyond that, we will be forced to shut down the plants,” he said. Brioso admitted that if hydropower plants shut down due to the lack of water, the power crisis that has been affecting Mindanao since February could worsen. Already, many areas suffer from up to six hours of power outages each day. In Cagayan de Oro City, an official of the Cagayan de Oro Electric Power and Light Company (Cepalco), said they were at the mercy of the generating companies. Cagayan de Oro needs 140 megawatts of power but the actual supply now is just 39 megawatts, according to Marilyn Echavez, Cepalco’s community relations manager. Efren Uy, president of the Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CDOCCI), said the power outages have been causing heavy losses. “Our conservative estimate is that for 300-350 megawatts of power deficiency, we lose P30 million per hour,” Uy told the Inquirer in a telephone interview. He said the estimate includes expenses on power generators that businesses have had to install at their establishments.

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Composting made easy with Bokashi by Zac Sarian  May 7, 2014  

The Cravings Group (TCG) which is in the restaurant business has partnered with a religious congregation to promote a practical way of converting household wastes into organic fertilizer right at home. The company, headed by Ms. Annie Guerrero, has partnered with the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart headed by Fr. Richie Gomez and Sr. Sonia Silverio to promote the use of the Bokashi technology among households nationwide.

ORGANIC FERTILIZER THROUGH VERMICULTIRE – Jess Domingo, a rancher and organic farmer in Alfonso  Lista, Ifugao, makes organic fertilizer by means of vermiculture. He is shown here (right) inspecting the  vermiculture bin together with Ronald Costales, a successful organic vegetable producer who visited him  recently. Cattle manure is used in making vermicompost that Jess uses for his papayas, vegetables and  other crops.  •

The Bokashi technology was developed by the Japanese and practiced widely not only in Japan but also in Korea. It is a technique that is easy and costs little to adopt, especially now that the Bokashi Bin and Mix is available in the Philippines, manufactured and distributed by communities authorized by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. The household wastes are placed in an airtight bin where they are fermented by beneficial microorganisms. Because the bin is tightly closed, no flies and other pests will contaminate the materials being composted. And there is no foul smell. In two weeks, the materials will be fully composted and can already be used as fertilizer.

Here’s from the handout of The Cravings Group: “To make your own bokashi, you need the following: bucket or drum with lid plus a perforated catchment inside to filter soil and a drain faucet at the bottom, a starter bokashi mix (composed of a combination of burnt rice hull, rice bran, copra, etc.), bokashi juice (contains beneficial microorganisms) and organic waste matter (any kitchen waste – raw, cooked and even meat and liquids).” It goes on: “Start with a handful of Bokashi mix and organic waste at about 2 inches high. Mix it well and cover the lid. Spray it with Bokashi juice to enhance the fermentation process. Do this layer by layer until the container is filled up. Make sure to close the lid tightly then leave it for 2 weeks. The waste does not degrade since it has transformed into a rich fertilizer.” The religious congregation, by the way, has empowered organized urban poor through the dissemination of the Bokashi technology. These include organized urban poor communities like those in Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, Corazon de Jesus in San Juan (Metro Manila), Damayang Lagi in New Manila, peasants in Quirino province and elsewhere. On the other hand, TCG has long been using Bokashi in all their organic gardens. Ms. Annie Guerrero says that the most sustainable way to restore and nurture the earth is through responsible management of organic waste. And the best way to address that challenge is the adoption of the Bokashi technology.




COMMERCIAL PRODUCTION ANALYSIS — As we were starting to write this column, we received a publication on the Profitability Analysis of Commercial Production of Organic Fertilizer. This was sent to us by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD). The publication states that “an initial investment of P2.17 million can yield an average annual net profit amounting to P619,000. Based on the projected 10-year income statement and cash flow, before financing, income is realized on the first year of operation. The initial investment can be fully recovered in 2.7 years. Also, the estimated internal rate of return (IRR) is 31.64% while the net present value (NPV) is at P966,302.34 at a discount rate of 20%.” Of course, the assumptions have been based on prices of material inputs as of July 2009. There are significant upward changes right now. For instance, carbonized rice hull was quoted at P5 per sack of 30 kilos. In actual farm conditions, raw rice hull is being sold at P10 per sack. Chicken manure is also more expensive than the P30 per bag of 35 kilos stated in the publication. Profitability can largely differ, depending on costs of raw materials, labor and other expenses. Acquisition costs could differ significantly. For instance, we know of someone using horse manure which he gets practically for free from his friends. His only cost is the hauling.

At any rate, the figures in the publication could serve as a basis for the entrepreneur to figure out his own costs and profitability when he gets into the business of producing organic fertilizer commercially. Aside from the land and building, the investor will have to acquire machineries and equipment that include a payloader, forklift, shredder, weighing scale, bag sealer and some other minor needs.




MANGO FESTIVAL — The 2014 Mango Festival will be held on May 9-11 at the Quezon Memorial Circle, Quezon City. The latest developments in the mango industry will be showcased. The event which is open free to the public is under the auspices of Tony S. Rola and his group.




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Microorganisms can muster coconut pest– organic farmer Category: Agri‐Commodities   07 May 2014   Written by Jeremaiah Opiniano   THE  search  is  on  for  the  pesticide  that  can  cure  an  insect  that  has  been  feasting  on  coconut  trees  in  Southern Tagalog and in some other regions of the country for four years now.  An organic farmer in Laguna, however, offers a different approach.  Burn  the  insect‐infested  leaves  first,  said  Ronald  Costales,  owner  of  an  organic  farm  called  Costales  Farms in Laguna province’s Majayjay town.  After burning the leaves, the farmer must spray the affected trees with effective micro‐organisms (EM),  a technology that the Japanese developed, according to him.  The  United  Kingdom‐based  Effective  Micro‐organisms  web  site  wrote  that  EM  is  a  mixture  “of  useful  regenerated microorganisms that exist freely in nature and are not manipulated in any way.”  Organic farmers like Costales use EM frequently because EM helps improve “the quality and fertility of  soil, as well as the growth and quality of crops.  Even before Costales’s 20 coconut trees have been infested in 2013, he has been “heavily” using EM for  his crops at Costales Nature Farm, an organic farm in Barangay Gagalot that’s found just below the foot  of Mount Banahaw.  He  noticed  that  after  spraying  his  20  trees  with  EM,  the  coconut  trees  were  “fully  cured.”  His  farm  is  part of a province, Laguna, that had some 169,395 coconut trees (says data from the Philippine Coconut  Authority) infested with the scale insect Aspidiotus rigidus.  A bottle of EM costs P550, Costales said. But that single bottle can already cover a 30‐hectare coconut  farm, he added.  “Mix EM with 200 liters of water and that can already cover the 30 hectares.” It is not EM, however, that  will kill the insect, Costales notes.  The  search  for  the  pesticide  that  can  kill  Aspidiotus  rigidus  insect  remains  as  scientists  from  the  University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) in Laguna have definitively said A.rigidus, not Aspidiotus 

destructor as  earlier  identified  by  scientists  and  the  Philippine  Coconut  Authority,  as  the  cause  of  the  swarming infestation spreading in the Calabarzon region and even provinces as far as Basilan.  Entomologists  past  and  present,  through  scientific  papers  done,  think  these  insects  that  infest  on  coconut trees and leaves spread out through the wind or through human acts, such as sharing infested  coconut fruits or through ornamental plants.  Norberto Rillera of the University of Asia and the Pacific said at a conference recently that insecticides  Dinotefuran,  Diazinon,  Chlorpyrifos,  Methidathion  and  white  oils  can  kill  the  insect  when  it  was  then  identified as Aspidiotus destructor. Meanwhile, some insects can eat and kill the coconut pest.  But  Celia  Medina  of  the  UPLB  campus  called  on  farmers  to  avoid  being  fooled  as  there  are  “real  concerns”  to  ensure  effective  pesticide  use,  such  as  the  practicality  of  using  these  with  the  resources  that  are  available;  cost  of  the  pesticide;  and  dealing  with  farm  owners  who  are  either  absent  or  reluctant to use these products.  Medina, entomologist at the UPLB College of Agriculture, said that, more important, the spraying of the  pesticide must be done simultaneously altogether over a large area. This is because unsprayed trees will  re‐infest the sprayed ones, and “we will be wasting money,” Medina explained.  This  re‐infestation  was  what  Costales  saw  in  the  neighboring  municipality  of  Alaminos  in  Laguna.  Farmers  there  applied  detergent  and  gasoline  onto the  leaves,  then  sprayed  the  leaves  with  pesticide  once.  The pests, Costales said, spread out again on the trees whose leaves are too tall for the pesticides’—and  the farmers’—reach.  Which is why he says his discovery of killing the pests using EM is currently being replicated by fellow  farmers in Barangay Gagalot.  “It should be a community effort,” said the 2012  Gawad Saka national awardee of the Department of  Agriculture.  As  for  his  organic  farm,  said  to  be  an  “agro‐tourism  destination,”  Costales  got  worried  that  the  Aspidiotus rigidus insect had jumped over to his mangosteen and guyabano trees.‐commodities/31741‐microorganisms‐ can‐muster‐coconut‐pest‐organic‐farmer     


Masbate cattle raisers go organic By Shiena M. Barrameda 12:03 am | Thursday, May 8th, 2014

ROASTER Mary Jane Dalanon, one of the primary manufacturers of beef products in Masbate, with a roasted cow during the recent Rodeo Masbateño to showcase the quality of beef produced in Masbate province. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Beef manufacturer Mary Jane Dalanon is curious about how the “new” Masbate cattle meat will taste compared with the beef she now processes to make her products. Dalanon, 41, owner of the largest beef products store in Masbate province, usually buys native cattle from ranches in Masbate City and nearby towns because the organic farming techniques employed by farmers and cattle raisers give Masbate beef a distinct succulent taste. Now that the Department of Agriculture (DA) has turned over a mini liquid nitrogen plant to the local government of Masbate, the businesswoman is anxious to know whether the cattle to be produced through artificial insemination (AI) will be of better quality than what Masbate farmers and cattle raisers produce. More than the prospect of a better income, her concern is getting the meat that will continue to meet consumers’ standards, she said. City Mayor Rowena Tuason said the nitrogen plant would help ranch owners and cattle raisers to produce better quality beef by allowing them to store genetic material or semen that they selected from their best specimens for cattle breeding. The P6.5-million facility at Masbate Fish Complex and Bus Terminal has begun selling buckets of liquid nitrogen worth P80 each to cattle raisers to store cattle semen in preparation for AI exclusively performed by city veterinarians. Upgrade

It was constructed by the DA through a memorandum of agreement with the city government as part of the national government’s AI program to improve native cattle and meat and dairy production. Tuason said the mini nitrogen plant would also upgrade the quality of goat and carabao meat. Local cattle ranchers have been cross-breeding native cows with foreign breeds by buying genetic material from Australia, but the practice could sometimes cost more than the profit, according to Tuason. “Now that we have our own nitrogen plant, our cattle raisers could already improve their specimens without transporting the cow outside Masbate to subject them to artificial insemination,” she said.

The cattle ranchers and other farm animal breeders are allowed to store the semen of their best specimens at the nitrogen plant, she said. The local governments in Masbate could also produce more cows to disperse to small farmers raising cash crops like grain and rice, who would become direct beneficiaries of city efforts to further increase meat production, Tuason said. Under the city government’s program, for example, the small farmers and their families would fatten up and breed through AI the heads of cattle they would receive from the local government until the animals have matured enough to be bred with other cows or sold to the market. The farmer who raised the cattle will be paid by the local government unit (LGU) proportionate to the weight the animal gained since it was handed to them. Should the cattle be used as a breeder, the farmer can benefit from the offspring because the LGU would also pay for it. Consumer preference “We will encourage that these cattle born via artificial insemination be bred because they would produce offspring of more profitable, higher quality,” Tuason said. Dalanon said her clients particularly prefer Masbate beef because the cattle that produce them are raised entirely on organic farming. Her store, MJ Beef Products, has been supplying various meat products since 1998 like beef tapa, corned beef and new product beef flakes—a favorite among visiting overseas workers. Tuason said cattle raisers in Masbate developed several organic techniques to produce and augment certain attributes in meat, such as increased tenderness, by allowing cows to graze freely on meadows with various species of grass.

They have also experimented with cross-breeding foreign breeds of cattle like the Brangus, which is the resulting offspring of a cross between a Brahman cow from New Zealand and an Angus cow from Australia, she said. She added that a cross like the Brangus beef is valued at P3,000 per kilo. Brangus cow meat, she said, is tastier and more succulent than the beef produced separately by these cows. “We expect that cattle produced from crossing breeds conveniently via artificial insemination would bring in more profit to our farmers and would ultimately increase Masbate’s production,” she said. Tuason said the mini nitrogen plant would enable the province to meet its target of becoming the largest producer of organically grown beef in the Philippines by 2020.

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Pampanga readies for water supply cut by Franco G. Regala  May 7, 2014  

City Of San Fernando, Pampanga – The provincial government here said Wednesday that contingency measures are in place — in the event irrigation of farmlands in Central Luzon will be cut to supply water for the Angat Dam. The National Water Resources Board (NWRB) earlier said water supply for 27,000 hectares of farms in the region, particularly in Bulacan and Pampanga, may be stopped earlier than May 15 to ensure enough water in Metro Manila should Angat Dam reach its critical level.

Water supply for 27,000 hectares of farms in Central Luzon, like this in file photo, may be stopped earlier than May 15 to ensure enough water in Metro Manila should Angat Dam reach its critical level, according to officials. (Ceasar Perante) To date, official records show that the dam’s level stands at 181.92 meters or 28 centimeters lower than its level last Monday. Gov. Lilia G. Pineda said there is ample water allocation through the Pampanga River and other irrigation channels to supply at least 18 towns in the province. With the support of the national government, through the Department of Agriculture (DA), Pineda said the province is giving continuous aid through the distribution of deep well pumps and other farm machinery to irrigate farmlands to help boost production and sustain livelihood. “Kasalukuyan umaabot na sa limang libong magsasaka ang nabiyayaan ng deep well pumps at ibang farm machineries at cash grants para ma-sustain ang kanilang hanapbuhay habang naghihintay ng harvest time,’’ the governor said in an interview. “Nagdistribute din tayo ng palay seeds and fertilizers para makatulong sa ating farmers.’’

Earlier, the provincial government held a meeting with officials of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and other agencies to jointly establish a concrete solution to curb the perennial problem of farmers during dry season. One of the immediate interventions agreed upon was the allocation of some P5 million from both agencies [NIA and Provincial Capitol] to irrigate additional 2,000 hectares covered under Pampanga Delta River Irrigation System (PADRIS) to benefit farmers from Arayat, Sta. Ana and Mexico towns. Field inspection on existing but non-functional irrigation canals is also being conducted for possible revival, rehabilitation and establishment of a comprehensive provincial irrigation road map, the governor said. She said the contingency plans had been put in place since two months ago after NIA regional director Rey Puno confirmed that Central Luzon was already experiencing a ‘mild’ El Nino phenomenon as the water level from the Angat Dam reached one meter below the operating rule curve, which is 204.32 meters from the regular water level of 206.04 meters. The NIA official expressed concern the continued weather phenomenon would badly hurt farmers in Aurora, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Pampanga, Zambales and Bulacan unless contingency plans are in place and efforts are intensified to curb the burgeoning dilemma. In Pampanga alone, he said farmers, whose farm areas are at the tail end of the PADRIS and the Angat-Maasin River Irrigation System, were wary of losing their rice crops, now on flowering stage, if irrigation water is not delivered on time. PADRIS irrigates more than 3,500 hectares this dry season while AMRIS covers around 6, 000 of the 9, 193 target rice area.

Metro Manila faces water shortage Church mulls ‘Oratio Imperata’ by Ellalyn De Vera  May 8, 2014 (updated)  

Manila, Philippines — Metro Manila residents may experience water rationing next month, much like in the 1990s during an El Niño phenomenon, unless it rains in the coming days to replenish the fast-receding water level at Angat Dam in Bulacan. With the continuous decline in the water elevation of Angat Dam, the main source of domestic water supply for Metro Manila, the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) will most likely reduce the allocation for the metropolis next month to avert a crisis. The Catholic Church, meanwhile, said it may again issue an “Oratio Imperata” (mandatory prayer) for rain in the event that the country suffers from another water crisis. “We will recite the Oratio Imperata if necessary,” Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros said, reacting to the decreasing water level in Angat Dam. During the 1991-1998 El Niño episode, water supply in Metro Manila was reduced to 22 cubic meters per second (cms). The water supply cut resulted in rationing as available water was reduced to just four hours per day. The NWRB also cut water allocation to 32 cms in July, 2010, when an El Niño episode adversely affected the amount of rainfall over the Angat watershed. At present, the allocation for domestic water supply in Metro Manila is still 42 cubic meters per second (cms), although already 4 cms lower than the normal supply of 46 cms. This allocation is split 60-40 percent for Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System’s (MWSS) concessionaires Maynilad and Manila Water, respectively. “We have been regulating the release of water since March,” said NWRB Monitoring and Enforcement Division chief Jorge Estioko, currently the agency’s officer-in-charge. Crucial meeting By the third week of May, Estioko said, the NWRB will meet again to decide whether to retain or reduce further the water allocation for domestic supply in June. Should the water level of Angat Dam continue to recede to critical level, Metro Manila residents will experience low water pressure and intermittent water supply, he said.

“The continuous decline in the Angat Dam’s water level will have an effect on the hydraulic condition of La Mesa and Ipo dams. The inflow of water in these dams will also decline and water consumers will likely experience lower water pressure or shortened hours of water supply due to the cut in water allocation,” he said. The water outflow from Angat Dam, which supplies the domestic water needs of residents in Metro Manila and irrigation requirements of Central Luzon farms, goes directly to Ipo Dam in Bulacan and further down to La Mesa Dam in Quezon City. As of 6 a.m. yesterday, Angat Dam’s water level was at 181.65 meters, lower than the 181.92 meters last Tuesday, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration’s data. The dam’s critical level is placed at 180 meters. For the irrigation needs of farmers in Pampanga and Bulacan, Estioko said the NWRB has approved the 10 cms allocation until May 15, “provided that the level of Angat Dam is still above 180 meters.” Of the total 27,000 hectares of farms relying on the water supply from Angat Dam, there are still 1,000 hectares of farmlands that need water for irrigation. “If the level of Angat Dam drops to lower than 180 meters, we will have to stop the allocation for irrigation,” he said. For power generation, “once we stop supplying water for irrigation, the turbines also automatically stops supplying water for the generation of power,” Estioko said. However, he explained that Angat Dam is not a major source of water for power generation, thus receding water level will not have adverse effects on electricity distribution. “The 10 cms allotment is too small,” he said. Cloud seeding Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture (DA) will be intensifying its cloud-seeding operations to save harvestable crops and other products from damage. To date, the DA-Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) has already completed 28 cloud-seeding trips in drought-affected municipalities in Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, and other areas in Cagayan Valley. In Isabela, these sorties prevented damage on some 4,155 hectares of corn farms, of which 3,490 hectares are in reproductive stage and 665 hectares in the vegetative, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said. Each flying hour costs around P43,000, including expense on salt being dispersed above clouds suitable for seeding. Aside from cloud-seeding sorties, DA has also started to distribute shallow tube wells and drought-tolerant crop varieties to help farmers in areas most affected by the drought.

For rice, it includes PSB Rc14, popularly known as “Rio Grande,� a rain-fed lowland rice variety which matures in 116 days with a maximum yield of 6.1 tons per hectare. (With a report from Leslie Ann G. Aquino)

Majority of Filipinos do not know Charter change moves in House – Pulse Asia 5:11 pm | Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines – If this survey is to be believed, majority of Filipinos are not even aware that a Charter change resolution has been filed in the House of Representatives, Pulse Asia said on Wednesday. But more of the Filipinos who knew of the resolution agree on the moves to amend the Constitution, the survey added. According to the survey, six of 10 Filipinos or 61 percent “have not heard, read, or watched anything about the resolution filed in Congress calling for amendments to the so-called restrictive provisions of the 1987 Philippine Constitution.” The survey was referring to House Resolution filed by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. seeking to ease the foreign ownership restrictions in the charter. The resolution would add the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” to the Constitution’s articles concerning the national economy and patrimony; education, science, technology, arts, culture and sports; and general provisions. This means the charter may only be amended after Congress passes a law lifting the restrictions. Lack of awareness was noted in majorities of geographic areas and socio-economic classes, the survey said.

The most number of Filipinos unaware of the resolution and only finding about it from the survey is found in the Visayas at 72 percent, followed by Mindanao at 71 percent. At least 57 percent of Filipinos in Luzon is not aware of the resolution. But more Filipinos were aware of the measure in the National Capital Region, with 57 percent having knowledge of the resolution. Majority of the Class E or 73 percent is not aware of the resolution, while 59 percent in Class D is also not aware. At least 42 percent in Class ABC does not have knowledge on the resolution. Among those who are aware of the Charter change measure, 44 percent agreed to it while 36 percent is undecided. Only 19 percent said they disagreed to the resolution. The survey noted a majority in Metro Manila or 58 percent as saying they agree to the resolution. Meanwhile, nearly the same percentage in Luzon (45 percent versus 39 percent) and Visayas (41 percent vs. 39 percent) either agree with the resolution or are undecided on the matter, respectively. Also, nearly the same percentage of Mindanaoans is either against the resolution (35 percent) or undecided on it (37 percent). In the socioeconomic groups, a plurality in Class ABC (48 percent) agreed with the resolution. Meanwhile, almost the same percentage in Class D (44 percent vs. 39 percent) and E (43 percent vs. 36 percent) agree with the move or are undecided on it. The survey is based on 1,200 respondents spread across the country. It was conducted from March 19 to 26.

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Water rationing looms in Metro By Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 8, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0 MANILA, Philippines - The National Water Resources Board (NWRB) yesterday warned the public that Metro Manila could face water rationing if the water level continues to drop in Angat Dam in Bulacan. Angat supplies potable water to the metropolis. Jorge Estioko, officer-in-charge of the NWRB deputy executive director’s office, said the agency would have to decide if they would retain the existing water allocation or reduce water supply of Metro Manila next month. He added that in the case of water supply reduction, the agency would have to pinpoint specific areas in Metro Manila where such measure will be implemented. On Tuesday, concerned officials recorded Angat Dam’s water level at 181.92 meters. Maynilad Water Services Inc., the country’s largest water utility firm, is expecting a worst case scenario of around 60,000 households suffering from water supply disruptions in August should the absence of rain continue. While supply remains normal so far, water level at the Angat Dam continues to decline, a situation that calls for the public to conserve water to prevent the repeat of the widespread water shortage during the El Niño phenomenon in 2010, company officials said yesterday. Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 “We’re preparing for the worst. The worst was in 2010 when water (level at the Angat Dam) went down to 157 meters above sea level. We’re trying our best to carefully monitor the protocol of releases of water in Angat Dam,” said Maynilad president and CEO Victorico Vargas. During the El Niño in 2010, around 322,000 Maynilad customers suffered from disrupted water supply. However, the west zone water concessionaire has already implemented contingency plans, including the construction of nine water reservoirs. “If 2010 happens again today, we will have lower pressure but there will be water. At worst, about five percent or 60,000 of our customer base will be affected,” Vargas said, adding that some customers might no longer enjoy 24 hours of water service. Maynilad chief financial officer Randolph Estrellado said as of Tuesday, water level in Angat Dam was at 181.92 meters but it drops by around 30 centimeters per day.

Should lack of rains continue, water level at the Angat Dam might fall to the critical 180-meter level by May 14 and further decline to 157 meters – the same as 2010 level – in August, Vargas said. Manuel Pangilinan, chairman of Maynilad’s parent firm Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC), said that while the water utility is pursuing the reduction of non-revenue water, the public should cooperate by conserving water. Non-revenue water, or water lost through leaks and theft, fell to 35.3 percent in the first quarter from 39.9 percent a year ago with Maynilad’s repair of 9,117 leaks. When MPIC took over Maynilad in 2007, non-revenue water stood at 68 percent. A meeting set for the third week of May will discuss Metro Manila’s water allocation, which for sure will not consider additional water supply given the continuing drop in the water level of the said dam in Bulacan, said Estioko. – With Neil Jerome Morales, Evelyn Macairan‐rationing‐looms‐metro                                

Meralco cuts rates by 5 centavos per kwh this month By Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 8, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0 MANILA, Philippines - Electricity rates will go down by roughly P10 this month on the back of a 5-centavo per kilowatt-hour reduction for a typical household consuming 200 kwh, the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) said yesterday. This is due to lower ancillary service component of the transmission charge, lower system loss and fewer customers who availed of the lifeline subsidy, which in turn offset a slight increase in the generation charge for a month. The generation charge in May rose by only P0.07 per kwh to P5.97 per kwh from P5.90 per kwh in April. This was despite a P6.70 per kwh increase in charges from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), the country’s trading floor for electricity. Meralco reduced the power it purchased from the WESM for the month of May and instead signed interim power supply agreements with power producers such as Toledo Power and Panay Power. “Our preparations to meet increasing demand this summer have allowed us to reduce the share of WESM purchases from 3.9 percent in the March supply month down to 3.4 percent in April,” said Alfredo Panlilio, Meralco’s senior vice president for customer retail services and corporate communications. Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 Panlilio said that deliveries from both Toledo Power and Panay Power commenced on April 3 and helped reduce requirements from the WESM. Meralco also fast-tracked a sub-transmission line project that allowed Therma Mobile to increase its available capacity to 200 MW from 150 MW beginning April 23, which further minimized the volume of power needed from the WESM. The reduced WESM share was also partly due to the earlier-than-scheduled resumption of operations of Ilijan 1 natural gas power plant after it went on maintenance outage, Meralco also said in its advisory.

Meanwhile, the cost of power from independent power producers (IPPs) went down by P0.13 per kwh. This offset a P0.07 per kwh increase in the average rate of energy from power supply agreements (PSAs), which still remained the source of power with the lowest cost. Meralco said PSAs and IPPs accounted for 56.1 percent and 40.4 percent of total energy requirements, respectively. Aside from the cost of power, other components in consumers’ electricity bills also went down. For instance, a 200 kwh household will see its transmission charge go down by P0.08 per kwh due to lower ancillary charges. There was also a cumulative reduction of P0.04 per kwh in subsidies and the system loss charge, mainly due to a decline in system loss percentage to 6.5 percent in May from 6.6 percent last month. Despite the reduction in electricity rates for the month of May, Meralco urged customers to practice energy efficiency. “Some examples of energy efficient practices include keeping the motors of electric fans clean. When using air conditioners, it is also advisable to set the thermostat to a comfortable level instead of the coolest level to save on electricity,” Meralco said. ERC approved price cap Meanwhile, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) approved the secondary price cap at the WESM to cushion electricity consumers from price spikes this summer. The price cap is the highest offer that sellers can give when they sell their electricity to the market. Power suppliers in the market with the lowest price get to supply the requirements of distribution utilities, but the last offer is the one that sets the price for which they will be paid. In a resolution dated May 6, the ERC said the price cap would be imposed if the average WESM offers submitted by power generators would breach P8.186 per kwh over a 72-hour period.‐cuts‐rates‐5‐centavos‐kwh‐month          

Aquino still opposed to cha-cha by Genalyn Kabiling  May 7, 2014  

President Aquino is still opposed to proposed changes to the 1987 Constitution despite persistent attempts by some members of Congress. “The President remains firm in his stand that Charter change is not a priority of this administration,” Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said. Coloma made the remarks after a Pulse Asia survey showed six in 10 Filipinos are not aware of a congressional resolution seeking to amend the Constitution. In the survey, 61 percent of the respondents are unaware about the Charter change proposal in Congress while 39 percent was aware of the move. “The survey results seem to indicate that there is low awareness level and that agreement on the need for Charter change is still a minority view among the citizenry,” Coloma said.‐still‐opposed‐to‐cha‐cha/                          

Four of 10 Pinoys favor Cha-cha — survey By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 8, 2014 - 12:00am 2 0 googleplus0 2 MANILA, Philippines - Four in 10 Filipinos are in favor of Charter change, according to a recent Pulse Asia survey. The survey also showed that more than half of Filipinos or at least 61 percent are unaware – have not heard, read or watched anything – of the Charter change resolution filed in Congress. On the other hand, at least 44 percent of those who are aware of the resolution agree with it. Nineteen percent were against the resolution while 36 percent were undecided. The survey was conducted from March 19 to 26, using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 representative adults 18 years old and above. In Metro Manila, 58 percent favored Charter change. Nearly the same percentage of those in the rest of Luzon and the Visayas either agree with the resolution or are ambivalent on the matter (41 percent to 45 percent versus 39 percent). In Mindanao, almost the same percentage of respondents was either opposed to the resolution or undecided on the matter (35 percent versus 37 percent). Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 Meanwhile, 48 percent of respondents from Class ABC favored Charter change while almost the same percentage of those in Classes D and E are either supportive of the resolution or ambivalent on the issue (43 percent to 44 percent versus 36 percent to 39 percent). A majority in most geographic areas and socio-economic classes reported lack of awareness on the resolution (57 percent to 72 percent and 59 percent to 73 percent, respectively). On the other hand, majority awareness levels are recorded in Metro Manila and Class ABC (57 percent and 58 percent, respectively). Gratified Proponents of amendments to the economic provisions of the Constitution said they were gratified by the results of the poll. Marikina City Rep. Romero Quimbo said it’s about time that Filipinos recognize the urgent need to ease restrictions in the economic provisions of the Constitution to attract foreign direct investment (FDI).

“This is the story of Southeast Asia. No FDI means no reduction in poverty because no jobs are created. That is a given,” he said. “Our FDI is the lowest in Southeast Asia principally because of the constitutional ownership restrictions. We need to change our Constitution so it will be attuned to the globalization that’s taking place,” he added. Dasmariñas City Rep. Elpidio Barzaga described the result of the survey as “a positive sign.” “Once the discussion in the plenary starts, more people will realize the importance of changing the restrictive economic provisions,” he said, adding the percentage of approval will even increase after discussions at the grassroots level. Parañaque City Rep. Gustavo Tambunting said relaxing the restrictions on foreign ownership of certain industries “will bring in money to the economy more easily.” Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone said the poll showed Filipinos now embrace the idea of major economic reforms that Congress is pushing to enable the country to sustain its growth and be more competitive. Plenary deliberations on Resolution of Both Houses 1, which was approved by the House committee on constitutional amendments last March, are set to start anytime soon. Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, president of the Centrist Democratic Party, said Congress’ approval of the resolution does not mean that amendments to the Constitution are immediately made. – With Paolo Romero, Aurea Calica‐10‐pinoys‐favor‐cha‐cha‐survey                    

Solon wants record of SIM card buyers May 7, 2014  

A measure seeking to record the names of all the buyers of prepaid subscriber identity module (SIM) packs has been filed at the House of Representatives. House Bill (HB) 3928, Quezon City 2nd district Rep. Winston Castelo said, requires public telecommunication companies to keep a record of these buyers’ identities to boost crime-fighting capabilities. Castelo noted that some criminals or tricksters use mobile phones with unregistered SIM cards to further their nefarious schemes. He said that some even send hoax messages on supposed winnings from commercial promos to dupe unsuspecting victims of their hard-earned cash. The solon said the bill’s purpose is to equip law enforcement agencies with the tools necessary to track down such criminals by enabling them to trace users of cellular phone numbers. “By recording the identity of all buyers of prepaid SIM and requiring public telecommunications entities (PTE) to keep record of these buyers, law enforcement agencies shall be able to hunt down crime perpetrators who take refuge in anonymity,” Castelo said. Under the measure, PTEs are mandated to ensure that the identity of buyers of their prepaid SIM cards is properly recorded and their addresses verified through the presentation of valid identification cards. If the sale of said SIM cards is done through agents, PTEs shall ensure that said agents submit to them the verified names and addresses of the buyers within 15 days from date of sale. The bill directs the PTEs to submit to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) within 30 days from the date of effectivity of this Act, a verified list of their current authorized dealers/agents nationwide. Moreover, PTEs shall submit to the NTC an updated list on a quarterly basis. Also, upon the issuance of a proper court order or a valid request from a government law enforcement agency showing proof that a particular cellular phone number was used in the commission of a crime or for an illegal purpose, the Telecommunications Service Provider shall be mandated to reveal the identity and personal circumstances of the user of such number. The bill imposes a penalty of P50,000 to P300,000 and six months imprisonment on any PTE found guilty of violating the provisions of this act.

The NTC is directed to issue the rules and regulations for the effective implementation of this act. (Ellson A. Quismorio)‐wants‐record‐of‐sim‐card‐buyers/                                              

Foreign‐currency reserves declined further to $79.61 billion in April Category: Top News   07 May 2014   Written by Bianca Cuaresma   The country’s foreign‐currency reserves opened the second quarter with a slight decline, as the Bangko  Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) used the reserves to pay the national government’s foreign debts during the  period.  In a report released on Wednesday, the BSP said the Philippines’s gross international reserves (GIR) hit  $79.61  billion  as  of  end‐April  this  year.  This  is  slightly  down  from  the  revised  March  figure  of  $79.65  billion.  This  means  the  reserves  shed  about  $40  million  in  April  alone,  and  fell  way  below  the  Development  Budget Coordination Committee’s assumption of $88 billion for 2014.  This is the second consecutive month that the country’s foreign‐currency reserves posted a decline due  to debt repayments of the national government.  “The  slight  decline  in  reserves  was  due  mainly  to  outflows  arising  from  payments  by  the  national  government for its maturing foreign‐exchange obligations and foreign‐exchange operations of the BSP,”  the  central  bank  said.“These  outflows  were  partially  offset  by  the  foreign‐currency  deposits  of  the  Treasurer of the Philippines of loan proceeds from multilateral sources,” the BSP added.  The central bank manages the GIR and uses them to underwrite obligations. It also serves as a cushion  for  the  economy  against  unexpected  imbalances  that  stem  from  external  pressures  and  global  developments.  Gold  reserves,  special‐drawing  rights  (SDR),  foreign  investments  and  foreign‐exchange  reserves comprise the country’s GIR.  A  declining  level  of  reserves  means  the  country  has  a  lower  capacity  to  repay  its  obligations  and  a  weaker buffer against imbalance risks.  Declines  were  seen  in  the  foreign‐investment  inflows  and  foreign‐exchange  operation  components  of  the international reserves.  In particular, foreign‐investment inflows declined to $68.98 billion in April, from $68.99 billion in March  this year. Foreign‐exchange operations, meanwhile, hit $705.9 million in April this year—down from the  $745.9 million in the previous month. 

These were  partially  offset  by  the  increases  seen  in  the  gold  holdings  of  the  central  bank—which  hit  $8.012 billion in April this year, from the $8.006 billion in the previous month.  Even  at  this  level,  the  country’s  GIR  could  still  cover  11  months’  worth  of  imports  of  goods  and  payments  of  services  and  income.  It  is  also  equivalent  to  6.9  times  the  country’s  short‐term  external  debt based on original maturity and 5.1 times based on residual maturity.  The DBCC has an assumption of $88 billion for the country’s GIR for the year. The agency will review this  assumption this month. If met, this will be the highest GIR level to date.  But  the  central  bank  said  the  DBCC  assumption  does  not  cover  revaluation  adjustments.  As  such,  the  assumption for end‐year GIR is at $86 billion to $87 billion.‐news/31761‐foreign‐currency‐reserves‐ declined‐further‐to‐79‐61‐billion‐in‐april                                 

Hotter days ahead by Ellalyn De Vera  May 7, 2014  

Manila, Philippines — This week, be prepared to feel the hottest days when high air temperature will be boosted by high humidity to produce a high heat index, or what the weather bureau defines as what the human body perceives. “If the air temperature in Metro Manila is 35 degrees Celsius, heat index will be around 37 to 38 degrees Celsius,” Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) Weather Forecasting Section chief Rene Paciente explained. “Heat index is usually higher by two to three degrees Celsius depending on the amount of humidity present in the atmosphere,” he added. “High air temperatures and high relative humidity will give high apparent temperatures or indices. Full exposure to sunshine can increase the heat index by 90°C,” PAGASA explained. The five-day heat index minimum/maximum temperature table uploaded in PAGASA website shows that Metro Manila’s heat index will reach a maximum heat index of 39.4 degrees Celsius, while Tuguegarao City in Cagayan will reach 40.2 degrees Celsius, this week.The PAGASA forecast of maximum air temperatures this week are: May 7 – 34 degrees Celsius, with a heat index of 38.7-degrees C; May 8 – 35 degrees C, with heat index of 39.4 C; May 9 – 35 degrees C with heat index of 39.3 C; May 10 – 34 degrees C with heat index of 38.9 C. With heat indices between 32 to 41 degrees Celsius, PAGASA advised residents to observe “extreme caution” as “heat cramps and heat exhaustion are possible” and “continuing activity could result to heat stroke.” Here are some tips to prevent heat stroke from PAGASA: 1. Stay indoors as much as possible, if air conditioning is not available, stay at the lowest floor out of the sunshine. 2. Wear lightweight and light colored clothing. Light colors will reflect the sun’s energy. Drink plenty of water regularly. The body needs water to keep cool. 3. Water is the safest liquid to drink during heat emergencies. Avoid drinking liquor because it dehydrates the body. 4. Eat small meals however eat more often. Avoid eating foods high in protein which can increase metabolic heat.‐days‐ahead/

Monetary Board seen increasing banks’ reserve requirement ratio Category: Top News   07 May 2014   Written by Bianca Cuaresma   Private  economists  expect  the  Monetary  Board  (MB)  to  hike  anew  banks’  reserve  requirement  ratio  (RRR) as a cushion to the strong liquidity growth.  They made the forecast ahead of the monetary‐policy stance setting on Thursday.  Three  economists  from  international  banks  said  the  seven‐man  policy‐setting  body  of  the  Bangko  Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) would likely hike the RRR of banks by another 1 percentage point to act on the  high liquidity growth in the economy.  In their March 27 policy meeting, the MB decided to hike the RRR of banks by 1 percentage point in an  effort to tame the strong liquidity growth in the country.  ING  Bank  economist  Joey  Cuyegkeng,  Standard  Chartered  economist  Jeff  Ng  and  Hongkong  and  Shanghai Banking Corp. (HSBC) economist Trinh Nguyen shared the view that another hike in the RRR of  banks will take place in the May 8 meeting of the board.  Although  no  specific  numbers  were  cited,  Cuyegkeng  said  the  central  bank  will  need  to  put  “liquidity  reducing” actions to reduce the risk of high liquidity and lending growth in the country.  “Safeguarding  the  financial  sector  from  risks  remains  the  driving  force  behind  additional  tightening  measures, such as liquidity‐reducing actions. The Monetary Board’s tune after the reserve‐requirement  ratio hike at the last meeting remains the same,” Cuyegkeng said.  Cuyegkeng also cited the El Niño phenomenon as a reason the central bank should hike interest rates in  its upcoming meeting.   “Another reason for further tightening of monetary policy is the impending inflationary impact of the El  Niño phenomenon, which could act as a ‘wild card,’” said the ING Bank economist. El Niño is expected to  be back starting next month, and could last until the first quarter of 2015,” the ING Bank said.   Similarly,  Nguyen  said  they  expect  the  central  bank  to  keep  all  main  policy  rates  on  hold,  but  could  potentially raise the reserve‐requirement ratio to 20 percent for universal and commercial banks. HSBC  also said it expects the special deposit account (SDA) rates to stay steady at 2 percent. 

In an e‐mailed response to the BusinessMirror, Ng also said they expect no change in policy rates, but a  hike of 1 percentage point in the IRR is expected.  At present, the BSP reverse repurchase, or overnight borrowing, rate is still at a record‐low level of 3.5  percent.  The  repurchase  or  overnight  lending  rate  is,  likewise,  at  an  all‐time  low  of  5.5  percent.  Universal and commercial banks’ RRR is at 19 percent, while the SDA rate is at 2 percent.  The May 8 policy‐stance meeting is the third of the monetary board for this year.‐news/31760‐monetary‐board‐seen‐ increasing‐banks‐reserve‐requirement‐ratio                                     

DBM sets up P2B micro-finance program for Yolanda survivors By Paolo G. Montecillo Philippine Daily Inquirer 5:59 pm | Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

A typhoon survivor takes a bath beside donated tents at typhoon-ravaged Tolosa town, Leyte province, on Dec. 9, 2013. The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, assisted by the Philippine Red Cross, handed over an initial donation of 500 shelter kits to Supertyphoon “Yolanda” survivors of Barangay Maya, DaanBantayan, Northern Cebu, to help families rebuild their homes. AP FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines—The government has set up a P2-billon fund that aims to help small businesses get cheap financing to bring their lives back in order, create new jobs and revive the economies of areas still recovering from typhoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan). In a statement, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said it had given the green light for the release of P2 billion to establish a new credit support fund (CSF), which could benefit about 416,000 entrepreneurs. “Affected micro-entrepreneurs will be provided loans at extremely low interest rates for various livelihood activities, such as sari-sari stores, livestock, hog, cattle and goat raising, piggery, fisheries, poultry, and farming, among others,” DBM Secretary Florencio Abad said. The P2 billion financial aid complements ongoing reconstruction and rehabilitation activities in areas ravaged by the super typhoon. “The Credit Support Fund is designed to help communities not only to get back on their feet but also to make their lives even better than before the calamity struck,” Abad said.

The P2-billion Credit Support Fund—released to and charged against the Bureau of Treasury’s (BTr) Special Account in the General Fund—will be transferred to the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) under its Calamity Rehabilitation Support (CARES) Program. The funds will then be lent to microfinance institutions (MFI), which specialize in financing livelihood programs with only a 4.5-percent interest rate. Of the total P2 billion release, 50 percent or P1 billion will be loaned to MFIs, which will re-lend to micro-enterprises. The other 30 percent or P600 million will serve as a credit guarantee to the end-borrower or the micro-entrepreneur, while the remaining 20 percent or P400 million will be provided to micro-finance conduits as operational support. Among the eligible MFIs to carry-out the program include rural, cooperative, and thrift banks, cooperatives, and non-government organizations. “By tapping MFIs, we are not only speeding up the delivery of much-needed livelihood assistance to our affected communities. We are also strategically investing in inclusive social structures that empower our poor countrymen through direct, immediate and substantial access to capital,” Abad said.

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Anti‐dynasty law useless without genuine agrarian reform–legislator Category: Nation   07 May 2014   Written by Jovee Marie N. dela Cruz   AS  House  plenary  debates  on  the  anti‐political  dynasty  bill  started  late  Tuesday,  a  lawmaker  said  the  measure will be useless without a genuine agrarian reform law.  After 20 years, plenary debates on House Bill (HB) 3587, or the consolidated Anti‐Political Dynasty Act of  2013,  have  officially  started.  The  said  bill  prohibits  relatives  of  public  officials  up  to  the  second  civil  degree  of  consanguinity  or  affinity  from  running  for  both  national  and  local  office  in  “succeeding,  simultaneous, or overlapping terms.”  “As one of the co‐authors of the anti‐political dynasty bill, I strongly urge for its immediate passage. Yet,  I  must  also  emphasize  that  the  dissolution  of  political  dynasties  does  not  solely  rely  on  this  law,  for  political dynasties arise due to socio‐economic and political inequities prevalent in Philippines society,”  Party‐list Rep. Terry Ridon of Kabataan said.  But Ridon warned that even if the anti‐political dynasty bill were enacted into law, it may be rendered  useless.  “A  law  prohibiting  political  dynasties  may  be  rendered  useless  if  we  do  not  pass  accompanying  legislation that would serve to tip  that imbalance.  One such legislation is the genuine agrarian‐reform  bill [GARB], a piece of legislation that goes hand in hand with the anti‐political dynasty bill, as the latter  destabilizes  the  political  support  of  dynastic  rule  while  the  former  destabilizes  the  root  of  unequal  opportunity for public office,” he said.  HB 252, or the GARB, remains at the House Committee on Agrarian Reform.  First  filed  in  the  14th  Congress  by  the  late  labor  leader  Crispin  Beltran,  HB  252  is  now  primarily  sponsored by Party‐list Rep. Fernando Hicap of Anakpawis and co‐authored by members of Makabayan  Coalition,  including  Ridon  and  Party‐list  Reps.  Neri  Colmenares  and  Carlos  Zarate  of  Bayan  Muna,  Luzviminda Ilagan and Emmi de Jesus of Gabriela and Antonio Tinio of ACT.  Members of the Makabayan Bloc are also the main authors of HB 172, which served as the main source  for the consolidated anti‐political dynasty bill. 

“If we could get the anti‐political dynasty bill passed at the committee level, I think Congress could also  do the same for GARB,” Ridon said.  He said that instead of extending the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program,  Congress should focus on passing GARB.  Some of the distinguishing features of HB 252 include swift and free land distribution, nationalization of  lands  operated  by  transnational  corporations  and  expropriation  of  commercial  farms,  confiscation  of  landholdings acquired through nefarious schemes, and a comprehensive program for the protection of  lands of beneficiaries and the promotion of cooperatives and support services.‐anti‐dynasty‐law‐useless‐ without‐genuine‐agrarian‐reform‐legislator                             

NCR still center of food, accommodation trade Category: Top News   07 May 2014   Written by Cai U. Ordinario   The  National  Capital  Region  (NCR)  remains  as  the  center  of  the  country’s  food  and  accommodation  businesses, based on the data recently released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).  The PSA reported that more than half of the P267.5‐billion total income of the food and accommodation  services nationwide in 2012 was earned by the NCR.  The region’s earnings totaled P151.6 billion, or 56.7 percent of the country’s total.  This  was  based  on  the  preliminary  data  of  the  PSA’s  2012  Census  of  Philippine  Business  and  Industry  (CPBI) for Accommodation and Food Service Activities for Establishments with Total Employment of 20  and over.  The  PSA  said  Restaurants  and  Mobile  Food  Service  Activities  was  the  top  contributor,  with  P190.3  billion,  or  71.1  percent  of  the  total  income.  Short‐term  Accommodation  Activities  generated  P67.6  billion, or 25.3 percent of the total.  Beverage Serving Activities shared 2.1 percent of the total, or P5.7 billion. The least contributor in the  income was the Other Accommodation segment, with P156.2 million, or 0.1 percent of the total.  “Based on the preliminary results of the 2012 CPBI conducted nationwide, the Philippines had a total of  6,229  establishments  with  total  employment  of  20  and  over  engaged  in  Accommodation  and  Food  Service Activities,” PSA said.  Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon (Calabarzon) followed the NCR, with P25.8 billion, or a share  of 9.6 percent. Completing the top 3 regions was Central Visayas, with P22.6 billion, or 8.5 percent of  the total income.  In terms of the number of establishments, the NCR  still had the  most number of accommodation and  food‐related establishments, with 2,642, or 42.4 percent.  Calabarzon  placed  second,  with  743  establishments,  or  11.9  percent  of  the  total;  followed  by  Central  Luzon, with 632 establishments, or 10.1 percent. 

The Autonomous  Region  in  Muslim  Mindanao  (ARMM)  registered  the  least  income,  with  only  P59.8  million.  The  ARMM  also  had  the  least  number  of  establishments,  with  only  10,  or  0.2  percent  of  the  total.  The 2012 CPBI is the forerunner of the 2006 CPBI and one of the designated statistical activities of the  former National Statistics Office (NSO), now the PSA.  Data  collected  from  the  census  will  provide  information  on  the  levels,  structure,  performance  and  trends of economic activities of the formal sector of the economy for the reference period 2012. It will  also  serve  as  benchmark  information  in  the  measurement  and  comparison  of  national  and  regional  economic growth.  Data  collection  was  intensified  through  the  use  of  Web‐based  or  online  accomplishment  of  questionnaire through the NSO web site and downloading of e‐questionnaire and submission through e‐ mail.‐news/31758‐ncr‐still‐center‐of‐food‐ accommodation‐trade                             

Davao braces for El Niño by Alexander D. Lopez  May 8, 2014  

Davao region is now preparing for the possible adverse effects of El Niño phenomenon that is already being felt in some areas in the country and is reported to last until the first quarter of next year. Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Director Remelyn Recoter and Regional Agricultural and Fisheries Council (RAFC) head Armando Ansingco said the phenomenon will bring big impact to agriculture and fisheries in the region. Ansingco said rice, corn, and inland fisheries will be vulnerable to drought as intense heat is already felt by farmers and fisherfolks in rural areas and hinterlands in the region. “Hinterlands in the region are already experiencing intense heat. We need to prepare for the worst situation to happen,” Ansingco told reporters. Recoter said certain measures are now being considered to help farmers in the region cope against the negative effects of drought. She said that they still don’t have any data on the effects of El Niño in the region. DA-11 is considering cloud-seeding as a program to ensure steady supply of water in irrigation systems. Recoter said cloud seeding must also be evaluated carefully as it has also negative effects to other crops that thrive during summer such as mango. “It’s the Bureau of Soil and Water Management that handles the operations of cloud seeding, including the budget,” Recoter said. Ansingco said that rice granaries in the region are supported by irrigation systems in Davao del Sur and in Lupon and Banaybanay in Davao Oriental. He however admitted that there is no guarantee in terms of the steady supply of water to irrigate rice fields during drought. “Our irrigation systems also rely on the supply of water through our rivers and impounded areas that might also be affected by the upcoming El Nino,” Ansingco said.‐braces‐for‐el‐nino/  

11 Chinese fishermen nabbed off Palawan Category: Nation   07 May 2014   Written by Rene Acosta   THE  National  Police’s  Maritime  Group  arrested  on  Tuesday  11  Chinese  fishermen  who  were  found  poaching on the country’s territorial waters off Palawan.  The National Police spokesman, Chief Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac, said the Chinese fishermen were  caught  by  members  of  the  Maritime  Group  at  the  Half  Moon  Shoal  or  Hasa  Hasa  Shoal  on  the  West  Philippine Sea.  The  shoal  is  located  some  50  nautical  miles  off  Palawan  and  within  the  country’s  exclusive  economic  zone (EEZ).  The  arrest  came  while  Filipino  and  American  soldiers  were  holding  joint  Exercise  Balikatan  in  several  parts of the country.  Over  the  weekend,  the  military  dropped  provisions  to  Marines  guarding  Ayungin  Shoal  on  the  West  Philippine Sea, which is being claimed by China.  The Marines are on board a grounded World War II vintage landing craft and are on the shoal to prevent  intruders from building structures there.  Sindac said the Chinese fishermen were aboard a 15‐ton boat when they were accosted by the maritime  police.  He identified the boat captain as Chen Hi Quan.  Sindac said the boat yielded 120 live sea turtles and 234 dead ones. Catching of sea turtles is prohibited  as these are considered endangered species.  Sindac said boat is already being towed to Liminangkong in Palawan. He added that charges would be  filed against the Chinese fishermen.‐11‐chinese‐fishermen‐nabbed‐ off‐palawan     

Agri group optimistic over ‘Kiko’ appointment by Liezle Basa Inigo  May 7, 2014  

Rosales, Pangasinan – The Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) thinks the appointment of former senator Francisco “Kiko” Pangilinan as Presidential Assistant on food security and agriculture modernization is a good step to the reform efforts. At the same time SINAG believes the appointment will be good for the local food selfsufficiency drive of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the anti-smuggling initiatives at the Bureau of Customs (BoC) as well as the pro-local agriculture legislative agenda of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Engr. Rosendo So, SINAG Chair. urged yesterday Pangilinan to strengthen efforts to support and promote the local rice industry and only import rice as a last resort since he is now in control of the National Food Authority (NFA). “We also hope that he will be an additional voice to the legal mandate of the NFA and official position of the Solicitor General of the ‘no permit, no rice import’ policy,” added Manalo Ofociano, a rice farmer and member of SINAG. So claimed that millions of rice farmers continue to enjoy unprecedented farm gate price of palay for two cropping seasons now and the local rice industry is reaping the benefits of the joint efforts of the DA, BOC and the Senate Agriculture Committee in curbing rice smuggling.


Philex settles tax obligation By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 8, 2014 - 12:00am 1 0 googleplus0 0 MANILA, Philippines - Listed Philex Mining Corp. has signed a P200-million tax settlement agreement with the host towns of its copper-gold operations in Benguet province, ending its tax row with the local government units. The memorandum of agreement was signed by Philex senior vice president and Padcal mine resident nanager Manuel Agcaoili, Tuba mayor Victorio Palangdan and Itogon mayor Florencio Bentrez. The agreement stipulates that the P200-million tax settlement covers all the business taxes due to the towns of Tuba and Itogon from 2013 and earlier years. “Itogon and Tuba hereby acknowledged that all previous business taxes due them, respectively, are deemed paid and that they shall have no further claims against Philex for any supposed business taxes due for 2013 and all earlier years,” the agreement said. Philex, in a statement, said the agreement stipulates “full, absolute, complete, and final settlement” of the local business taxes owed, including surcharges and interests. The agreement also stipulates that the settlement amount would be equally shared by Tuba and Itogon. The MOA stated that of the P200 million settlement amount, P50 million in cash would be paid directly to the cashier’s office of Itogon and another P50 million to that of Tuba within 10 days upon the execution of the accord. The remaining P100 million would be divided equally for the respective public projects of the host towns, payable in equal installments of P25 million between the last quarter of this year and the third quarter of 2015. A boundary issue between the two towns prevented the collection of taxes from Philex. The host towns agreed that from this year onwards, the business tax imposed on 70 percent of the company’s gross sales company would be shared equally. The business tax imposed on 30 percent of gross receipts would go to Pasig City where Philex has its head office. “Through the years of its existence, Philex has shown, time and again, that it never shied away and will never shy away from its commitments and responsibilities,” said Agcaoili.‐settles‐tax‐obligation

Government awards land to 61 Negros Oriental farmers Category: Regions   07 May 2014   Written by lecruz   THE Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) announced on Wednesday a total of 61 agrarian beneficiaries  of  the  Comprehensive  Agrarian  Reform  Program  (CARP)  in  the  towns  of  Mabinay  and  Sibulan,  Negros  Oriental, have been installed recently.  In  a  statement  on  Wednesday,  the  DAR  said  that  the  land,  formerly  owned  by  Genaro  Goni,  is  a  57‐ hectare property situated in Barangay Luyang in the municipality of Mabinay. A total of 57 farmers were  installed in the said barangay.  Meanwhile,  four  other  beneficiaries  were  installed  at  a  9.5‐hectare  land  formerly  owned  by  Cabrera  Enterprise Properties in Barangay San Antonio in the town of Sibulan, the DAR said.  Municipal Agrarian Reform Program Officers Benjamin Empig and Eliseo Salvo of Mabinay and Sibulan,  respectively, led the simple turn‐over of the farm lots to the new owners, according to the DAR.  Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer II Louie Naranjo and Chief of LTI Division Manuel Galon Jr.  witnessed the turnover, the DAR statement said.  Naranjo  was  quoted  in  the  statement  as  saying  he  briefed  the  beneficiaries  of  the  “new”  rights  and  obligations as landowner under CARP.  Naranjo was also quoted as saying he urged the farmers to make their CARP‐awarded lands productive  and pay their amortizations and taxes religiously.  Jonathan L. Mayuga‐government‐awards‐land‐to‐ 61‐negros‐oriental‐farmers       

GSIS to use electronic billing system (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 8, 2014 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - State pension fund Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) will introduce this July the Electronic Billing and Collection System (eBCS), a Web-based application that will enable GSIS to send its billing statements for premium and loan amortization to government agencies electronically, and accept payments online. The eBCS will be used by government personnel in charge of approving and remitting payments to GSIS, particularly the finance and electronic remittance file (ERF) officers, or those who prepare the agency’s ERF that contains the list of members and their monthly remittances. The system will allow government agencies to download GSIS billing statements, upload the ERF, and review the account history of members. It will also generate reports that will enable agency remitting officers to check, update data, and correct errors right away before remitting payments online, making their jobs easier and faster. Under eBCS, the pension fund will notify remitting agencies through email on the first and 15th day of the month to inform them that they can already download the billing statement from the system. The remittance list may then be uploaded by the remitting officers who will match it with the billing statement. Should both files match, the agency could already pay the amount due the GSIS online. Agencies that lack online capability may still pay either over the counter or through banks. To facilitate the payment of remittances, eBCS will be electronically linked to servicing banks accredited by the pension fund. At present, GSIS is training the finance and remitting officers of all government agencies nationwide on how to use eBCS. “The online billing and electronic payment will save GSIS millions of pesos in postage and courier expenses as files will change hands electronically at no cost,” president and general manager Robert G. Vergara said. Vergara added that it will “save time and government resources on the part of remitting officers who can do all the work, including payment of GSIS bills, in the comfort of their offices.” Since the billing file can be downloaded as early as the first day of the month, remitting officers can also prepare the remittance file early and will have more time to check any discrepancy between the billing and the remittance files. “This will ensure the seamless and efficient posting of payments, ultimately resulting in the accurate computation of the benefit proceeds of members,” Vergara said.‐use‐electronic‐billing‐system

Warming disrupts American lives – climate report by The New York Times  May 7, 2014  

New York – The effects of human-induced climate change are being felt in every corner of the United States, scientists reported Tuesday, with water growing scarcer in dry regions, torrential rains increasing in wet regions, heat waves becoming more common and more severe, wildfires growing worse, and forests dying under assault from heat-loving insects. Such sweeping changes have been caused by an average warming of less than two degrees Fahrenheit over most land areas of the country in the past century, the scientists found. If greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane continue to escalate at a rapid pace, they said, the warming could conceivably exceed 10 degrees by the end of this century.

FILE PHOTO SHOWS Marine unit police officer Robert Jonah walks through floodwaters from the Schuylkill River on Main Street, on May 1, in the Manayunk neighborhood of Philadelphia. Global warming is rapidly turning America into a stormy and dangerous place, with rising seas and disasters upending lives from flood-stricken Florida to the wildfire-ravaged West, the National Climate Assessment Report concluded Tuesday. (AP) “Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present,” the scientists declared in a major new report assessing the situation in the United States. “Summers are longer and hotter, and extended periods of unusual heat last longer than any living American has ever experienced,” the report continued. “Winters are generally shorter and warmer. Rain comes in heavier downpours. People are seeing changes in the length and severity of seasonal allergies, the plant varieties that thrive in their gardens, and the kinds of birds they see in any particular month in their neighborhoods.” The report is the latest in a series of dire warnings about how the effects of global warming that had been long foreseen by climate scientists are already affecting the planet. Its region-by-region documentation of changes that are occurring in the United States, and of future risks, makes clear

that few places will be unscathed – and some, like northerly areas, are feeling the effects at a swifter pace than had been expected. Alaska in particular is hard hit. Glaciers and frozen ground in that state are melting, storms are eating away at fragile coastlines no longer protected by winter sea ice, and entire communities are having to flee inland – a precursor of the large-scale changes the report foresees for the rest of the United States. The study, known as the National Climate Assessment, was prepared by a large scientific panel overseen by the government and received final approval at a meeting Tuesday. The White House, which released the report, wants to maximize its impact to drum up a sense of urgency among Americans about climate change – and thus to build political support for a contentious new climate change regulation that President Barack Obama plans to issue in June. But instead of giving a Rose Garden speech, Obama spent Tuesday giving interviews to local and national weather broadcasters on climate change and extreme weather. The goal was to help Americans connect the vast planetary problem of global warming caused by carbon emissions from cars and coal plants to the changing conditions in their own backyards. It was a strategic decision that senior White House staff members had been planning for months. Speaking to Al Roker of NBC News, in an interview scheduled to be shown Wednesday morning on the “Today” show, Obama said, “This is not some distant problem of the future. This is a problem that is affecting Americans right now. Whether it means increased flooding, greater vulnerability to drought, more severe wildfires – all these things are having an impact on Americans as we speak.”In the Northeast, the report found a big increase in torrential rains and risks from a rising sea that could lead to a repeat of the kind of flooding seen in Hurricane Sandy. In the Southwest, the water shortages seen to date are likely just a foretaste of the changes to come, the report found. In that region, the report warned, “severe and sustained drought will stress water sources, already overutilized in many areas, forcing increasing competition among farmers, energy producers, urban dwellers and plant and animal life for the region’s most precious resource.” The report did find some benefits from climate change in the short run, particularly for the Midwest, such as a longer growing season for crops and a longer shipping season on the Great Lakes. But it warned that these were likely to be countered in the long run by escalating damages, particularly to agriculture. “Yes, climate change is already here,” said Richard B. Alley, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University who was not involved in writing the report. “But the costs so far are still on the low side compared to what will be coming under business as usual by late in this century.” The report was supervised and approved by a large committee representing a cross section of U.S. society, including representatives of two oil companies. It is the third national report in 14 years, and by far the most urgent in tone, leaving little doubt that the scientists consider climate

change an incipient crisis. It is also the most slickly produced, with an elaborate package of interactive graphics on the Internet. One of the report’s most striking findings concerned the rising frequency of torrential rains. Scientists have expected this effect for decades because more water is evaporating from a warming ocean surface, and the warmer atmosphere is able to hold the excess vapor, which then falls as rain or snow. But even the leading experts have been surprised by the scope of the change. The report found that the eastern half of the country is receiving more precipitation in general. And over the past half-century, the proportion of precipitation that is falling in very heavy rain events has jumped by 71 percent in the Northeast, by 37 percent in the Midwest and by 27 percent in the South, the report found. “It’s a big change,” said Radley M. Horton, a climate scientist at Columbia University in New York who helped write the report. He added that scientists do not fully understand the regional variations. In recent years, sudden intense rains have caused extensive damage. For instance, large parts of Nashville, Tennessee were devastated by floods in 2010 after nearly 20 inches of rain fell in two days. Last year, parts of Colorado flooded after getting as much rain in a week as normally falls in a year. Just last week, widespread devastation occurred in the Florida Panhandle from rains that may have exceeded two feet in 24 hours. The new report emphasized that people should not expect global warming to happen at a steady pace, nor at the same rate throughout the country. Bitterly cold winters will continue to occur, the report said, even as they become somewhat less likely. Warming, too, will vary. While most of the country has warmed sharply over the past century, the Southeast has barely warmed at all, and a section of southern Alabama has even cooled slightly.‐disrupts‐american‐lives‐climate‐report/                

Religious group bucks mining plan by Zaldy Comanda  May 7, 2014  

Baguio City – The second largest religious group in Kalinga province sought the proposed 3rd Organic Act for Cordillera autonomy to categorically disallow large-scale projects that destroy the environment, in what could be the strong opposition against mining during the Regional Autonomy Summit last April 30 in this city. In a statement submitted to the summit secretariat and furnished the media during the occasion, the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Luzon (EDNL) said that environmentalist groups should propose that the bill should contain clear provisions against mega projects that destroy the environment. The diocese covers Kalinga, Cagayan, Apayao, Abra, Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte The position of the EDNL is consistent with the policy of the Episcopal Church of the Philippines (ECP) opposing large-scale mining and logging operations and also with the fifth of the church’s five marks of mission which is “to protect, care for and renew the planet.”‐group‐bucks‐mining‐plan/                          

Pure Foods income surges 24% to P870 M in Q1 By Neil Jerome C. Morales (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 8, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0 MANILA, Philippines - Strong sales and higher selling prices allowed the food and beverage unit of diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) to post significant earnings growth in the first three months of the year. In a disclosure, San Miguel Pure Foods Co. Inc. (SMPF) said its net income surged 24 percent to P870 million while consolidated revenues rose five percent to P24.2 billion in the first quarter from a year ago. The growth was driven by the “higher volume, better selling prices and improved efficiencies,” SMPF said. The commodity business recorded a nine percent revenue growth on the back of higher turnover and improved selling prices while exclusive retail outlets contributed to the volume growth, SMPF said. For its part, the branded value-added business, behind core brands Purefoods, Tender Juicy, Magnolia and San Mig Coffee, said it generated a combined revenue growth of four percent, carried by the double-digit uptick of Magnolia dairy, fats and oils, and coffee segments, SMPF said. The international business, through operations in Indonesia, sustained its recovery with the introduction of new products, the listed food company said, adding that the export business posted continuous growth due to the expansion to new territories and markets. Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 Last year, SMPF inaugurated its P3-billion grain terminal in Batangas that will allow the company to enjoy lower freight costs and terminal fees. SMPF declared yesterday a P20 per share cash dividend to holders of preferred shares as of May 22, payable on June 3. Parent firm SMC is into power (SMC Global Power Corp.), beer (San Miguel Brewery Inc.), packaging (San Miguel Yamamura Packaging Corp.), liquor (Ginebra San Miguel Inc.), petroleum (Petron Corp.), airline (Philippine Airlines) and various infrastructure projects nationwide.‐foods‐income‐surges‐24‐p870‐m‐q1

Mangrove rehab a gov’t priority by Chito A. Chavez  May 7, 2014  

Several activities to create public awareness on the importance of mangroves in protecting the coastlines and inhabitants were lined up by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in celebration of the Month of the Ocean (MOO). With the theme, “Mangroves protect. Protect mangroves,” Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje said the celebration is timely and significant in light of the massive devastation wrought by typhoon “Yolanda.” “Yolanda undoubtedly was an instant education for Filipino people as to what storm surges are, and was an awakening of sort on the state of our coastal communities and their lack of protection from natural events,” Paje said. The DENR chief noted that Yolanda and other extreme weather events before it are part of the so-called “new normal” as impacts of climate change increase. However, Paje said, the good news is that mangroves can help coastal communities adapt to climate change.‐rehab‐a‐govt‐priority/                      

Mt. Apo closure due to dry spell sought by Malu Cadelina Manar  May 7, 2014  

KIDAPAWAN CITY – The long drought has led the Kidapawan City tourism board to propose the closure of the trails to Mount Apo in June. City tourism officer Joey Recimilla said the closure will prevent forest fires as there will be no chance mountain climbers could accidentally cause one. “There are irresponsible climbers who, not only destroy the mountain by bringing in there their garbage but also things, among them cigarettes, that might trigger a fire in the forest,” said Recimilla. He stressed he doesn’t want a repeat of the forest fires that happened in 1993 and 1997 when dry spell also hit the province. It took days before forest fire fighters from at least three local government units in North Cotabato, which included Kidapawan, Magpet, and Makilala to put off the blaze then. Massive reforestation followed to rehabilitate the mountain. “We have just replanted trees in previously denuded areas in Mount Apo. [We don’t want to be careless anymore.] We have to protect what we have replanted and is available in the mountain,” he said. Reports reaching the city tourism office said the water level of the Matingao and Marbel Rivers have started to decrease due to continued drought. “Even the streams and creeks have begun to dry up, which is already a cause of concern for us, especially those protecting the Mount Apo,” he said.‐apo‐closure‐due‐to‐dry‐spell‐sought/              

44 provinces vulnerable to El Niño By Anna Leah G. Estrada | May. 08, 2014 at 12:01am FORTY-FOUR provinces and two cities will be the most vulnerable to El Niño once it hits in June, the Department of Agriculture said Wednesday. Undersecretary Emerson Palad said those areas include Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, La Union, Pangasinan, Cagayan, Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales.

High and dry. Farmers in Calumpit, Bulacan, harvest what they can before the drought takes all their crops. Manny Palmero The other areas expected to be hit hard are are Cavite, Rizal, Occidental Mindoro, Palawan, Capiz, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Zamboanga City, Misamis Oriental, Sarangani and South Cotabato. The moderately vulnerable areas are Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Mountain Province, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Batangas, Laguna, Quezon, Romblon, Sorsogon, Aklan, Antique, Bohol, Samar, Zamboanga del Norte, del Sur and Sibugay, Bukidnon, Davao Oriental and Davao City. On May 6, Australia issued an El Niño alert on expectations the weather-altering pattern will probably develop in July, potentially bringing drought across the Asia-Pacific region and heavier-than-usual rain to South America. El Niños can roil agricultural markets worldwide as farmers contend with drought or too much rain. Still, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said his department was prepared to deal with El Niño, which is expected to hit its peak by the end of the year. Drought also hit the Philippines in 2009 up to 2010.

“As early as last month, the department has been implementing cloud-seeding operations to induce rain in the major watersheds and farming communities in Cagayan Valley that did not receive rainfall for at least a week,” Alcala said. “And with a protracted dry spell now an increasing possibility, the department will intensify its cloud-seeding operations to save crops and other produce from damage.” Alcala said his department had also allotted P8.4 million for the repair of the irrigation system in Pisan village in Kagacan, North Cotabato. Alcala made his statement even as the temperature in Metro Manila soared to 36.2 degrees Celsius at 3 pm on Wednesday, just a little shy of the 36.4 degrees Celsius recorded on May 1. The weather bureau said Wednesday it expected hotter days ahead. Hydrologist Edgar de la Cruz said three of the four major dams in Luzon still had enough water despite the extreme heat and lack of rainfall. He said Magat Dam in Isabela, San Roque Dam in Pangasinan, and Pantabangan Dam in Nueva Ecija will not hit their critical levels, and that only the water level in Angat Dam remains low. With Rio N. Araja, Jenniffer B. Austria, Maricel V. Cruz and PNA‐provinces‐vulnerable‐to‐el‐ni‐o/                        

BSP likely to hike banks’ reserve requirement By Julito G. Rada | May. 08, 2014 at 12:01am The Monetary Board is expected to raise the reserve requirement of banks by another 1 percentage point when it convenes today, in the face of potential risks led by high credit growth, an official of Dutch financial institution ING Bank said Wednesday. ING Bank Manila senior economist Joey Cuyegkeng said in the “Views and Cues” financial markets report released ahead of the Monetary Board’s policy meeting the Bangko Sentral should further tighten its monetary policy to mop up excess cash from the financial system that had “led to high credit growth for some sectors of the economy.” The Bangko Sentral began tightening the policy setting in its last meeting when it increased the reserve requirement of universal and commercial banks by one percentage point, or from 18 percent to 19 percent, to mop up excess liquidity. Domestic liquidity, or supply of money, was growing at more than 30 percent in recent months, partly driven by strong credit growth which hit 20 percent in March. “Safeguarding the financial sector from risks remains the driving force behind additional tightening measures such as liquidity-reducing actions. The [Monetary Board’s] tune after the reserve requirement ratio [RRR] hike at the last meeting remains the same,” Cuyegkeng said. Cuyegkeng said policy tightening “reduces the risk of negative credit developments that may affect at least P870 billion worth of bank credit.”‐likely‐to‐hike‐banks‐reserve‐requirement/              

BSP likely to hike banks’ reserve requirement By Julito G. Rada | May. 08, 2014 at 12:01am The Monetary Board is expected to raise the reserve requirement of banks by another 1 percentage point when it convenes today, in the face of potential risks led by high credit growth, an official of Dutch financial institution ING Bank said Wednesday. ING Bank Manila senior economist Joey Cuyegkeng said in the “Views and Cues” financial markets report released ahead of the Monetary Board’s policy meeting the Bangko Sentral should further tighten its monetary policy to mop up excess cash from the financial system that had “led to high credit growth for some sectors of the economy.” The Bangko Sentral began tightening the policy setting in its last meeting when it increased the reserve requirement of universal and commercial banks by one percentage point, or from 18 percent to 19 percent, to mop up excess liquidity. Domestic liquidity, or supply of money, was growing at more than 30 percent in recent months, partly driven by strong credit growth which hit 20 percent in March. “Safeguarding the financial sector from risks remains the driving force behind additional tightening measures such as liquidity-reducing actions. The [Monetary Board’s] tune after the reserve requirement ratio [RRR] hike at the last meeting remains the same,” Cuyegkeng said. Cuyegkeng said policy tightening “reduces the risk of negative credit developments that may affect at least P870 billion worth of bank credit.”‐likely‐to‐hike‐banks‐reserve‐requirement/              

With his powers clipped, Alcala should resign By Emil Jurado | May. 08, 2014 at 12:01am  

IT IS said that President Aquino is clearly biased for the middle-income people and the rich, but against the working class or labor. Proof of this is the fact that during his four-year term and with two more years to go, there has been no plan on the part of the Aquino administration to reach out to the labor sector and the working class. The very fact that the President did not seem inclined to listen to the problems of labor and the working class last May 1 points to this. Instead of announcing some plans to satisfy labor and the workers, the President instead urged the people to vote for somebody who could continue his reform agenda. As for his bias for the rich and the middle- income group, the very fact that he refused to listen to the need for constitutional changes to remove the restrictive provisions of the 1987 Constitution on foreign ownership of land and public utilities shows his hand trying to protect the rich, who represent just one percent of the population. Santa Banana, the only reason I can think of why the President is biased for the rich and middleincome group is that he gets funding and political support from them! *** The appointment of former Senator Kiko Pangilinan as presidential assistant with the rank of a cabinet secretary for food security and agricultural modernization raises some questions. I am not minimizing the competence of Pangilinan in agriculture, being engaged in farming himself, but the very fact that the President placed under his control key agencies of the Department of Agriculture—the National Food Authority, National Irrigation Administration, Philippine Coconut Authority and Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority—in effect clipped the powers of Secretary Proceso Alcala. No matter how Malacañang tries to massage the fact that Alcala lost most of his powers to run the department, saying that the President continues to have his trust and confidence in him, still the impression is that, soon enough, Alcala may step down since he has lost most of his powers over the department.

Malacañang may not be saying it, but the fact that Alcala has been accused of massive corruption, especially in rice importation because of the existence of the alleged “Quezon Mafia” in the department and his link to Janet Lim-Napoles’ P10- billion pork barrel scam, appear to have taken its toll on Alcala. Note that the President’s marching orders to Pangilinan is to clean up the department’s agencies—especially the NFA—which is clear enough proof that Alcala could not do it. Note also that Alcala’s self-imposed achievement for the country to be self-sufficient in rice production never came. My gulay, if Alcala has some self-respect and delicadeza left he should resign pronto. As agriculture secretary, Alcala has become an excess luggage, but then delicadeza is something very personal to people. They either have it or don’t. As for Kiko Pangilinan’s marching orders to clean up the Department of Agriculture from the stench of massive corruption, with only two more years of the Aquino administration, I doubt if it can done. Pangilinan may have all the intention to do it, but corruption in that department stinks to the core. The attainment of food security by Pangilinan is another matter. If the Agriculture Department could do it in four year’s time under Alcala, how can the country attain food self-efficiency in two years’ time? Pangilinan may fail to attain food security until President Aquino steps down, but Kiko’s exposure in this regard should be enough to assure him a seat in the Senate come 2016. *** Six months after Super-Typhoon Yolanda devastated most of Eastern Visayas, and months after when the President named former Senator Ping Lacson “Rehabilitation Czar,” I have gone on record wondering what Lacson is doing as presidential assistant with the rank of a Cabinet secretary to achieve his goal. Lacson says the government is on track in giving back normalcy to the loves of the Yolanda survivors, adding that the efforts continue while his office is waiting for the Office of Civil Defense to submit its Post-Disaster Needs Assessment to the Cabinet for vetting prior to the President’s approval. The submission of the PDNA is a requirement before Lacson’s office can submit the Master Plan for the rehabilitation of the Yolanda-stricken areas. Five cabinet clusters so far have been created—Infrastructure, headed by Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson; Resettlement, headed by Vice President Jojo Binay; Livelihood, headed by Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo; Social Services, headed by Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman; and Support co-chaired by Budget Secretary Butch Abad and Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan. Along with the PDNA, the consolidated clusters’ action plan and programs will form part of the Master Plan, Lacson said.

My gulay, so far only the infrastructure cluster has submitted its plan and program. This leads us to ask: how soon can that Master Plan for reconstruction and rehabilitation be finalized? At the rate things are going, it will probably take another six months to have that Master Plan. Aside from the long delay in having a Master Plan for reconstruction and rehabilitation, there’s the need to find out how many housing units are needed and what agency will do it. Add to this the need for billions of pesos in funding, and you have one big problem. Now comes the United Nations saying there is an outstanding need for the government to provide jobs, shelter and more aid to the Yolanda survivors. The UN High Commissioner also said that the situation is such that while the overall situation has improved, there is a need for more relief and aid, which leads me to ask: Where have all the relief and aid that poured in the aftermath of Yolanda gone? Considering the fact that 2015 will usher in the campaign period for 2016, I am afraid that reconstruction and rehabilitation will become a campaign issue. This simply means that at the rate Lacson’s master Plan is going, it may again be derailed. *** The Aquino administration and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front have agreed on the composition of the body that will spearhead the decommission or disarmament of MLF fighters and their weapons. This new panel will be the one to supervise, oversee, and basically implement the decommissioning process. While this development in the final implementation of the Bangsamoro Peace Agreement may sound good on paper, there are still doubts that the MILF will be fully disarmed. Those who know the Muslim culture and history will tell you that a Muslim would rather sleep with his rifle than with his wife. How about all the dismembered MILF fighters like the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters or BIFF? Will they also disarm themselves? The Misuari-led Moro National Liberation Front will surely not since they are not part of the agreement between the government and the MILF. For sure, the many private armies of the Muslims will not lay down their arms since they know that without their arms, they will be at the mercy of other tribes and clans. That’s the reason why so many loose firearms proliferate in Central Mindanao because of the need for clans and tribes to protect themselves Another question: What kind of arms will be decommissioned? Old and worn out arms for sure, while the new firearms said to have been delivered by Malaysia will be buried and hidden. And to the many who know Muslim culture and tradition, decommissioning the MILF fighters and their weapons is a big joke.

The procedure of disarmament is for the MILF to submit a list of their weapons and combatants, or an inventory of their weapons. And the government or the panel created to oversee the decommissioning is supposed to rely on that list? And the Aquino administration is supposed to believe that list?‐his‐powers‐clipped‐alcala‐should‐resign/                                          

UP Los Baños welcomes Pangilinan’s appointment as Agri adviser May 7, 2014 10:51 pm  

by LULU PRINCIPE The University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) community on Wednesday lauded the appointment of former senator Francis Pangilinan as Presidential Adviser on Food Security and Agriculture Modernization since it comes at a time when the agriculture sector needs a competent and dedicated leader to head crucial agencies whose primary function is to ensure adequate food and improve the plight of farmers.Dr. Domingo E. Angeles, Professor and Dean of the UPLB College of Agriculture, said Pangilinan’s exposure and experiences in agriculture during his term as chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture will help him confront problems in the farm sector.Pangilinan now heads the National Food Authority (NFA), National Irrigation Administration (NIA), Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and Fertilizer Pesticide Authority (FPA).For the country to achieve food sufficiency, Angeles said the government should invest in new irrigation systems and implement an honest-to-goodness program on reforestation of watersheds so that farms will have ample supply of water particularly during the dry season.It should also come up with an acceptable, simplified program that will encourage local government units to subsidize hybrid seeds to be used by farmers, prohibit the conversion of agricultural lands, provide incentives to the youth to remain in the agricultural sector and expand the implementation of farm mechanization law to increase production efficiency. Angeles attributed the proliferation of rice smuggling to the inefficiency of the country’s production system thereby doubling the local price as against the grain imported from Vietnam and Thailand. The UPLB dean stressed the need for the country to review its population growth rate since it is also “a factor that influences rice self-sufficiency.” “At a two percent growth rate in the population, in 30 years, we will be close to 180 million. Without any increase in the current area devoted to rice, the future becomes bleak,” he told The Manila Times. Angeles said inefficient production system, high post-harvest losses, needed reforms in transport and distribution system and warehousing support in various regions should be given priority to prevent the spiralling prices of basic farm produce like rice and smuggling of farm products.‐los‐banos‐welcomes‐pangilinans‐appointment‐as‐agri‐ adviser/94819/  

P630 millionfor Region 8 coco industry rehabilitation May 7, 2014 8:45 pm   by JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ THE rehabilitation of the coconut industry in Region 8 devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda got a major boost on Wednesday with the immediate release of P630.7 million from the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA). Under the “90-Day Focused Intervention” project, the PCA aims to mitigate the possible outbreak of Rhinoceros beetle infestation and to salvage the economic value of the fallen and crownless coconut trees and turn it to cash or building materials for their owners. PCA Region 8 manager Joel Pilapil said 228,045 totally damaged trees have been processed so far. The project covers the municipalities of Palo, Tanauan, and Tolosa including Tacloban City.‐millionfor‐region‐8‐coco‐industry‐rehabilitation/94737/                           

ING Bank sees further 1% hike in BSP’s RRR May 7, 2014 10:09 pm   The central bank may need to tighten its monetary policy further to guard against risks to financial stability amid the rapid growth in domestic liquidity and the expected impact of the El Niño weather phenomenon, ING Bank said on Wednesday. Joey Cuyegkeng, senior economist for Manila at ING Bank, said in a report released ahead of the Monetary Board policy meeting set for May 8 that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) will face the need to further increase the reserve requirement ratio (RRR) for banks by another one percentage point to 20 percent. Cuyegkeng said increasing the RRR will enable the central bank to mop up excess cash from the financial system which had led to high credit growth in some sectors of the economy. “Safeguarding the financial sector from risks remains the driving force behind additional tightening measures such as liquidity-reducing actions. The [Monetary Board’s] tune after the reserve requirement ratio [RRR] hike at the last meeting remains the same,” he said in the ING report. On March 27, monetary authorities decided to keep the overnight borrowing and overnight lending rates at 3.5 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively, but the bank’s RRR was raised by one percentage point to 19 percent, effective from April 11. Cuyegkeng said policy tightening should reduce the risk of credit-negative developments on at least P870-billion worth of bank credit at the moment. That amount includes P708-billion worth of property loans as of March 2014, which now comprises 18 percent of the total loan portfolio of commercial banks. Growth of loans to the property sector averaged 21.2 percent year-on-year over the past 15 months to March 2014, Cuyegkeng added. The amount also includes at least $3.6 billion in foreign currency deposit units (FCDU) loans “without natural hedges as of end-2013” and $5.2 billion FCDU loans to borrowers against their FCDU deposits. Policy tightening could also support the peso, which should help moderate foreign exchange risks for US dollar borrowers, he said. The impending inflationary impact of the El Niño phenomenon was cited as another reason why the central bank must further tighten its monetary policy. The weather phenomenon, which is expected to start next month and could last until the first quarter of 2015, could act as a “wild card” in the country’s inflation environment, Cuyengkeng warned.

“In previous episodes of El Niño, headline and food inflation rates were higher by around 1 to 2 percentage points. In the past, the BSP-MB did not act to contain supply-induced inflation pressures since monetary tools affected demand-caused inflation pressures. If this is again the policy action, then BSP-MB actions would still focus on safeguarding the financial sector,” Cuyegkeng said. The economist also sees the government resorting to more rice importation to moderate the El Niño impact on rice output and prices, adding that from the current target importation of 800,000 metric tons, imports could reach nearly 2 million MT. Earlier, the government said the country’s inflation environment remained manageable despite its slight acceleration to 4.1 percent in April from 3.9 percent in March because of faster increments in the prices of food, electricity and petroleum products. MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO‐bank‐sees‐further‐1‐hike‐in‐bsps‐rrr/94800/                              

Meralco cuts rates by 5 centavos/kWh for May May 7, 2014 10:09 pm   by MADELAINE B. MIRAFLOR Despite a small increase in the generation charge, Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) is cutting its power rates by around 5 centavos per kilowatthour (kWh) in May due to downward adjustments in some of the components in its electricity bill. For a typical household consuming 200 kWh a month, the rate cut will mean almost a P10reduction in the monthly bill. Meralco said lower transmission and system loss charges more than offset the P0.07 per kWh increase in the generation charge, or the cost of power sold by producers to distribution utilities like Meralco. According to Meralco, the generation charge went up by only seven centavos—from P5.90 to P5.97 per kWh this month—despite a P6.70 per kWh increase in charges from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), inclusive of line rentals. Alfredo S. Panlilio, Meralco senior vice president for customer retail services and corporate communications, cited Meralco’s reduced exposure to WESM as one factor why the generation charge increased only slightly. “Our preparations to meet increasing demand this summer has allowed us to reduce the share of Wholesale Electricity Spot Market purchases from 3.9 percent in the March supply month down to 3.4 percent in April,” said Panlilio. He added that deliveries from Toledo Power and Panay Power, with which Meralco recently signed Interim Power Supply Agreements (IPSAs), are likewise helping reduce requirements from WESM. The cost of power from the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) also went down by P0.13 per kWh, which offset a P0.07 per kWh increase in the average rate of energy from Power Supply Agreements (PSAs). While electricity rates are down this May, Meralco still cautioned customers to continue to observe energy efficient practices to help manage their consumption and electricity-related expenses, especially this summer.‐cuts‐rates‐by‐5‐centavoskwh‐for‐may/94798/ 

BSP MONITORS FINANCIAL SYSTEM PRESSURE POINTS May 7, 2014 10:04 pm   by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO IN line with its objective of promoting greater financial stability, the central bank said it continues to closely monitor potential pressure points in the country’s financial system to maintain its solid performance. In a statement on Tuesday, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said that the country’s financial system registered a solid performance in 2013. “The system’s performance has been improving steadily since the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis,” it stated. The BSP said that the system increased its resilience to adverse shocks by strengthening its capital position and funding structure, a route toward financial stability reinforced by the implementation of the Basel III capital framework effective this year. The central bank said that the total assets of banks, which represent 81.3 percent of the total resources of the financial system, grew 23.7 percent year-on-year to P10 trillion at the end of 2013.‐monitors‐financial‐system‐pressure‐points/94777/                           

Posted on May 07, 2014 10:04:00 PM

Restaurants lead accommodation, food sector in 2012 RESTAURANT and mobile food activities led the accommodation and food sector in 2012,  according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).    Preliminary results of the 2012 Census of Philippine Business and Industry, released online  earlier this week by the PSA’s National Statistics Office, showed that restaurant and mobile  food activities accounted for 71%, or 4,477, of the total 6,229 establishments in the sector.    Short‐term accommodation activities came second with 19.9% or 1,239 establishments.    Beverage serving activities followed with 6.6%; event catering and other food activities, 1.5%;  and establishments classified as other accommodations, 0.1%.    While those in the restaurant and mobile food group comprised the bulk of the workers in the  sector, it was second only in terms of salary, with an average annual income of P142,000.    Workers in the short‐term accommodation category had the highest pay, P183,000 per year, on  average.    Employees in beverage serving activities received an average of P85,000 annually, making them  the lowest‐paid in the sector.    The PSA report also noted that most of the establishments in the sector were based in the  National Capital Region (NCR), which had 743 establishments or 42.4% of the total.    Calabarzon followed with its 11.9% share (743 establishments) while Central Luzon had 10.1%  (632 establishments).    The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao had the fewest establishments with 10, or 0.2%  of the total. ‐‐ A.M. Monzon‐lead‐ accommodation,‐food‐sector‐in‐2012&id=87101   

Posted on May 07, 2014 08:46:58 PM

Tightening urged as lending heats up THE CENTRAL bank has to further tighten monetary policy, an economist from the ING Bank in  Manila said as he flagged risks from rising mortgage debts and the El Niño, while predicting the  economy likely grew by over 7% in the first quarter.  .In a statement released a day before the central bank’s policy review, ING Bank senior  economist in Manila Joey Mario I. Cuyegkeng said “[s]afeguarding the financial sector from risks  remains the driving force behind additional tightening measures such as liquidity‐reducing  actions.”    One risk, he said, is the “excess cash” in the financial system that has “led to high credit growth  for some sectors of the economy,” with loans to the property sector alone rising 21.2% year on  year in the past 15 months to March this year.    While slowing from January’s record 37.3% growth, domestic liquidity or M3 ‐‐ the broadest  measure of money in the financial system ‐‐ continues to grow by over 30% since the second  half of last year, fueling lending to a near two‐and‐a‐half year high of 20% in March.    Mr. Cuyegkeng said tightening measures would reduce “the risk of negative credit  developments that may affect at least P870 billion worth of bank credit.”     This amount includes P708 billion worth of property loans as of March 2014, now comprising  18% of the total loan portfolio of commercial banks, according to Mr. Cuyegkeng.    Another risk, Mr. Cuyegkeng said, is the El Niño weather phenomenon that could stoke  inflation, even as more rice imports could soften the weather’s impact on prices.    El Niño ‐‐ a period of anomalous weather including rain shortage likely to start next month ‐‐  “could act as a wild card,” he said, “and could last until the first quarter of 2015.”    “In previous episode of El Niño, headline and food inflation rates were higher by around 1 to 2  percentage points,” Mr. Cuyegkeng said.   “In the past, BSP‐MB did not act to contain supply‐induced inflation pressures since monetary  tools affect demand‐caused inflation pressures.     If this is again the policy action, then BSP‐MB actions would still focus on safeguarding the 

financial sector.”    On Monday, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that April’s headline inflation rate  hit 4.1%, up from March’s 3.9%. It fell within the BSP’s 3.6‐4.5% outlook for the month but was  slightly higher than the 4% median forecast in a BusinessWorld poll of analysts.    The BSP is widely expected to require banks to set aside more cash as reserve after its rate‐ setting meeting today, following through its March 27 decision to raise banks’ reserve ratios by  one percentage point.    Mr. Cuyegkeng did not specify what kind of tightening the central bank must do, but said: “The  (Monetary Board’s) tune after the reserve requirement ratio (RRR) hike at the last meeting  remains the same.”    A hike in interest rates, which have remained at record lows since October 2012, could dampen  economic growth that is already widely predicted to slow this year.    But Mr. Cuyegkeng forecast the economy still expanded at a strong clip in the first quarter at  6.8% to 7.2%. First quarter growth last year was 7.7%. ‐‐ R.L.B. Aquino‐urged‐as‐ lending‐heats‐up&id=87082                     

Lawyer to Kiko: Clean up kickback scam in DA Written by  Benjamin B. Pulta   Thursday, 08 May 2014 00:00   Public Interest advocate Argee Guevarra lauded the appointment of former Sen. Kiko Pangilinan as food security chief saying this is a positive step in mitigating corruption in the graft-plagued agencies of the department. Guevara filed two plunder complaints against Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso Alcala and Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Orlando Calayag over the overpriced importation some 200,000 metric tons of rice from Vietnam under a government-to-government transaction where an estimated P450 million in kickbacks changed hands in a hotel in Singapore. Early this year and on the basis of a Commission on Audit Audit Report, the lawyer filed another plunder charge against Alcala and National Agribusiness Corp. president Honesto Baniqued for their involvement in the anomalous disbursement of Nabcor funds totaling P10.4 billion which Guevarra claimed were misused and diverted from farmer-beneficiaries and instead were spent for the 2013 elections and the bulk lining up the pockets of corrupt Agriculture officials. As for the president’s decision to appoint Pangilinan to a post seemingly performing a superfluity of functions with those being exercised by the Agri secretary, Guevarra said that “Joker Arroyo was more gratuitous in likening P-Noy’s Cabinet to a student council; student councils get to fire or impeach errant officers. In not dismissing Alcala from the Cabinet, PNoy’s management mindset is governed more by his sense of barkadahan (gangmates) than his sense of duty as President of the Republic, thus running roughshod over his empty avowals that his bosses are the Filipino people” As for Alcala, Guevarra renewed calls for him to resign and said that “with the appointment of Kiko to a post similar to his and considering the president’s obvious clipping of his (Alcala) powers and tacit acknowledgment of Alcala’s failure to achieve rice self-sufficiency and involvement in corruption, he is in law and in fact, “constructively dismissed.” He should thus spare this administration from further embarrassment — and further plunder cases before the Ombudsman.” Guevarra warned of the possibility “that the NFA’s recent importation of 800,000 metric tons of overpriced rice from Vietnam — which was again negotiated by the same DA and NFA cabal of officials who presided over the past overpriced rice importations — could be considered as ‘separation benefits’ or ‘severance pay’ accorded to Alcala and his cronies by Pnoy as ‘consuelo de bobo’ for their ‘constructive dismissal.’ Easily, P2 billion in kickbacks were generated from this recent importation deal.”‐to‐kiko‐clean‐up‐kickback‐scam‐in‐da   

Comelec warns no biometrics, no voting in May 2016 elections Written by  PNA   Thursday, 08 May 2014 00:00   The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has raised a warning to all voters in the May 2016 presidential elections that they have to seek and accomplish biometrics data or they cannot vote in the elections. City Election Registrar Reiner Layson said that they are expecting an additional 10,000 to 20,000 voters who must register with the Comelec on top of some 20,000 who have no or incomplete biometrics data. The mandatory biometrics registration of voters started May 6 until Oct. 31, 2015 and the Comelec office accepts registrants Sundays to Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The city Comelec office has transferred to the vacated office of the Municipal Trial Court Branch 1 to 4 at the second floor of the Iloilo city terminal market building. Layson assured that all registrants will be served such as first-time voters, transferees, and reactivation of registration as long as they have the biometrics data including fingerprints and photo.‐warns‐no‐biometrics‐no‐voting‐in‐may‐2016‐ elections                     

Anakpawis warns new agriculture czar: Keep your hands off multibillion‐peso coco levy fund Written by  Charlie V. Manalo   Thursday, 08 May 2014 00:00   Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap yesterday warned Presidential Adviser for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Francis Pangilinan to keep his hands off the multibillion-peso coco levy fund. Pangilinan, recently appointed by Malacañang to a Cabinet position, will serve as the Aquino administration’s agriculture and food security czar. He will oversee agencies under the Department of Agriculture National Food Authority, National Irrigation Authority, Philippine Coconut Authority and Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority where allegations of corruption have been raised against Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala. Pangilinan said in media interviews that among his priorities are the cleaning of agri agencies linked to corruption, fast-tracking of agri projects and addressing problems of the coconut industry and the use of the multibillion-peso coco levy fund. “The coco levy must be returned to small coconut farmers,” said Hicap who authored House Bill 1327 or the Genuine Small Coconut Farmers’ Fund that states that the coco levy funds shall be used exclusively for the benefit of genuine small coconut farmers. The proposed measure is in response to small coconut farmers demand for the “cash distribution of the recovered funds.” Under HB 1327 the coco levy, now estimated to have ballooned to between P100 million and P150 million, “shall be apportioned to all coconut farmers without discrimination in the form of cash and other social benefits, including but not limited to pension benefits; medical and hospitalization benefits; maternity benefits, and educational assistance, including scholarships. The bill also seeks “to finance socio-economic projects initiated by small coconut farmers and their organizations and/or cooperatives that shall primarily focus on: livelihood programs and projects meant to provide additional incomes to small coconut farmers, small and medium-scale coconut enterprises, marketing and trading mechanisms, inventions and innovations of machineries and equipment for the development of high-quality coconut and improvement of local coconut production, and programs that would provide loan facilities for small coconut farmers.” The Aquino administration is inclined to use the multibillion-peso coco levy funds for the rehabilitation efforts of coconut farmlands affected by super typhoon “Yolanda.” Early this year, the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) received an initial rehabilitation fund of P2.8 billion from Malacañang to aid coco farmers in Leyte and Samar provinces, Panay Island, northern Cebu and Bantayan Island that were hit by “Yolanda.” “If the government is really sincere in helping coco farmers throughout the country, especially those severely affected by calamities, we challenge Malacañang to certify as urgent House Bill

1327,” Hicap said. “Coco farmers need direct assistance and other social benefits to help them recover.” “Six months after Yolanda, small coconut farmers have yet to receive direct assistance from the national government,” said Hicap who also noted that supertyphoon Yolanda destroyed more than 33 million or 10 percent of the country’s coconut trees, leaving millions of coconut farmers with no source of income and livelihood and dependent on local and foreign aid. Meanwhile, the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) asked Pangilinan to complete the distribution of 100,000 fishing boats to poor fishermen affected by Yolanda last year. Pamalakaya vice chairman Salvador France said so far the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources had only distributed some 12,000 fishing boats to fisherfolk survivors of Yolanda which, he said, is still very far from what should be accomplished to jump start economic rehabilitation in fishing areas devastated by Yolanda last year. “We challenge the newly appointed presidential assistant for food security and agricultural modernization to come up with decisive program of action that would address this highly needed and urgent concerns of small fishermen. Our estimate sees the need to distribute at least 100,000 fishing boats to revive fish production and livelihood affected by Yolanda, But the national government so far has only accomplished the distribution of 12,000 fishing boats which is 88 percent or 88,000 short of the practical target,” the Pamalakaya official noted. Pamalakaya’s France noted the very poor performance of the Department of Agriculture under Alcala. He said the response to legitimate demands and pressing needs of Yolanda affected fishermen of the agriculture department was knee jerk, not substantial and hardly felt in fishing communities ravaged by the super typhoon last year. The Pamalakaya leader said aside from 12,000 fishing boats, the agriculture department only managed to give 4,000 fishing nets and put up 200 payaos amounting to P40 million. Pamalakaya said the 100,000 fishing boats should be distributed for free and should cover the provinces of Leyte, Samar, Northern Cebu, Northern Iloilo, Aklan, Capiz, Antique, Guimaras, Northern Negros, Palawan, Masbate, Mindoro Oriental and Mindoro Occidental. Pamalakaya also pressed Pangilinan to look into the failed promise of Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Manuel Roxas III and Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD) Secretary Dinky Soliman to release the P30,000 rehabilitation fund which the two officials vowed to make available to thousands of families affected by Yolanda in the provinces of Aklan and Capiz. Pamalakaya said the national government and the offices of DILG and DSWD will only spend P450 million for the request of 15,000 fishing families in Capiz. He said President Aquino has hundreds of billions of pesos’ worth of presidential pork barrel which can address this urgent demand of coastal families in Capiz.‐section/anakpawis‐warns‐new‐agriculture‐czar‐keep‐ your‐hands‐off‐multibillion‐peso‐coco‐levy‐fund    

Kabataan solon says genuine land reform best way to dismantle political dynasties Written by  Charlie V. Manalo   Thursday, 08 May 2014 00:00   Kabataan partylist Rep. Terry Ridon yesterday called on his colleagues to support the accompanying legislation on agrarian reform, saying the Anti-Political Dynasty bill will be rendered useless if they fail to act on the proposed genuine agrarian program. “As one of the co-authors of the Anti-Political Dynasty bill, I strongly urge its immediate passage. Yet I must also emphasize that the dissolution of political dynasties does not solely rely on this law, for political dynasties arise due to socio-economic and political inequities prevalent in Philippine society,” Ridon said. Plenary debates on House Bill 3587, or the consolidated Anti-Political Dynasty Act of 2013, have officially begun on Tuesday evening. The bill prohibits relatives of public officials up to the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity from running for both national and local office in “succeeding, simultaneous, or overlapping terms.” “A law prohibiting political dynasties may be rendered useless if we do not pass accompanying legislation that would serve to tip that imbalance. One such legislation is the Genuine Agrarian Reform bill, a piece of legislation that goes hand-in-hand with the Anti-Political Dynasty bill, as the latter destabilizes the political buttresses supporting dynastic rule while the former destabilizes the root of unequal opportunity for public office,” Ridon explained. While HB 3587 is already in the House plenary, House Bill 252 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) remains at the committee level. The House committee on agrarian reform is set to hold its second hearing for the bill this afternoon. First filed in the 14th Congress by the late labor leader Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran, HB 252 is now primarily sponsored by Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap, and is co-authored by members of Makabayan Coalition, including Reps. Ridon, Neri Colmenares, Carlos Zarate, Luzviminda Ilagan, Emmi de Jesus and Antonio Tinio. Members of the Makabayan Coalition are also the main authors of House Bill 172 which served as the main source for the consolidated Anti-Political Dynasty bill. “If we could get the Anti-Political Dynasty Bill passed at the committee level, I think Congress could also do the same for GARB,” Ridon said. “Instead of extending the implementation of the moribund Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, Congress should instead focus on passing GARB which this representation believes addresses the root causes of landlessness in the country,” he added. Some of the distinguishing features of HB 252 include swift and free land distribution, nationalization of lands operated by transnational corporations and expropriation of commercial farms, confiscation of landholdings acquired through nefarious schemes and a comprehensive

program for the protection of lands of beneficiaries and the promotion of cooperatives and support services. “Political dynasties exist because economic power, especially in the countryside, still rests in the hands of a few landlords. There can never be equal access to public office if there is no equal access to land resources,” Ridon said.‐section/kabataan‐solon‐says‐genuine‐land‐reform‐best‐ way‐to‐dismantle‐political‐dynasties                                      

Peasants group pickets Lower House to press solons to pass new agrarian reform bill Written by  Tribune   Thursday, 08 May 2014 00:00   After barricading the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) the other day, the militant peasants group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) yesterday vented its ire on the House of Representatives. The group picketed the lower house in Quezon City to press its call to the members of the House committee on agrarian reform to stop their political maneuvers in railroading the recently filed bill to extend the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and instead pass a new and genuine agrarian reform program. During the committee on agrarian reform’s hearing on House Bill 252 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill, the KMP said the GARB is the real solution to the centuries-old landlessness by Filipino farmers. The urgent call of the peasant organization was aimed at stopping the alleged continuing landlessness, land-grabbing and agrarian-related violence suffered by the farmers under the CARP. KMP secretary general Antonio Flores said the committee on agrarian reform should stop the maneuvers to railroad the passage of the CARP extension bill. Flores said the committee should instead side with the Filipino peasantry and turn its labor in crafting a new and genuine land reform program. He expressed the belief that GARB and its provision to nationalize agricultural lands will put an end to the monopoly of lands by big landlords. Flores said that “immediately following the nationalization is the free distribution of lands that will answer the long standing democratic demand by the peasantry.” “Nationalization and the subsequent free distribution of lands will free the majority of the Filipino people, the peasant class, from the age-old feudal and semi-feudal exploitation,” Flores stressed. The peasant leader said the nationalization of lands will serve as farmers’ protection from the reconcentration of lands and the return of land monopoly and control of big landlords. Alvin Murcia‐section/peasants‐group‐pickets‐lower‐house‐to‐press‐ solons‐to‐pass‐new‐agrarian‐reform‐bill   

Raising RR to affect banks’ intermediation costs — BAP Written by  Ed Velasco   Thursday, 08 May 2014 00:00  

As the Monetary Board (MB), the policy making body of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), is gearing to raise reserve requirement (RR) anew, the Bankers’ Association of the Philippines (BAP) said it is time to think over again if the move is in line with the high liquidity in the market. Despite the reminder, the association of the Philippines’ 34 universal and commercial banks (UKBs) in the Philippines said it has no objection to the impending rise in RR ratio, now already at 19 percent for UKBs. It was in the news several days ago that the MB is setting its sight on another one-percent increase in RR, citing the very crucial need to siphon off excess cash from entering the financial market. The MB last increased RR on Mar. 27, 2014 and it might do the same in its meeting today. The MB increases, decreases or maintains borrowing, lending, RR and special deposit account rates every six or seven weeks under normal condition. RR is a central bank regulation employed by most, but not all, of the world’s central banks, that sets the minimum fraction of customer deposits and notes that each commercial bank must hold as reserves. “While the move is generally in line with expectations on the normalization of monetary conditions, a further increase in RR ratio will definitely affect the intermediation costs of the banks,” BAP president Lorenzo Tan told The Daily Tribune in an interview at his office in RCBC Tower. Once increased, the new RR for UKB will become 20 percent. The BSP, however, didn’t say if similar increase will be made for thrift and rural banks’ RR ratio. Current RR for TBs is nine percent while its five percent for RBs. “An impending hike in the RR will be in response to the persistently high liquidity in the market. This will effectively increase intermediation costs and banks may reflect this additional cost in the pricing of their loans,” the BAP president added.‐rr‐to‐affect‐banks‐intermediation‐costs‐bap        

PH ready for EL NIÑO Published : Thursday, May 08, 2014 00:00 Article Views : 53

THE Department of Agriculture yesterday assured the public the agency is prepared to deal with the El Niño phenomenon. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala made the assurance following warnings from the Department of Science and Technology that an El Niño phenomenon may start affecting the country by June and peak by end of 2014. Alcala said as early as last month, the DA has conducted cloud seeding operations to induce rains in major watersheds and farming communities in Cagayan Valley that did not receive a rainfall for at least a week. The last prolonged drought recorded in the country was in 2009. “With a protracted dry spell now an increasing possibility, we would intensify cloud seeding operations so as to save harvestable crops and other produce from damage,” Alcala said. To date, the DA has already completed 28 cloud-seeding sorties in several drought-affected municipalities in Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya and other areas in Cagayan Valley. Alcala said these sorties had prevented damage on some 4,155 hectares of corn farms, of which 3,490 hectares are in the reproductive stage and 665 hectares are in the vegetative stages. Aside from cloud seeding sorties, the DA has also started distributing shallow tube wells and drought-tolerant crop varieties to help farmers in areas most affected by the drought. For rice, it includes PSB Rc14 or more popularly known as “Rio Grande,” a rain-fed lowland rice variety which matures in 116 days with a maximum yield of 6.1 tons per hectare. “For farmers who do not intend to plant rice, we are advising them to consider drought-resistant crops such as sweet pepper, ube, alugbati, mungbean, cassava and sweet potato,” Alcala said.

The DA said the farmers can avail of several water-saving technologies. Among them is “controlled irrigation” or the alternate wetting and drying technology being promoted by the Philippine Rice Research Institute. Besides conserving valuable water, the AWD technique also minimizes greenhouse gas emissions in rice paddy fields. PhilRice has also been teaching farmers nationwide to adopt Palayamanan Plus, a highly integrated and diversified system of farming where rice is grown with other crops and livestock, among others. “With diversified sources of food and income, farmers would be able to enhance their resilience to adverse weather conditions such as a prolonged drought,” Alcala said.

2014 05 08 quedancor daily news monitor  
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